Archive for October, 2010

Busily doing nothing

31st October 2010

I was fortunate to see @FloraMarriot ’s wiki at work on Friday (no ‘oooh, errr’s’ please). The very generous Flora runs L&D for Yell Adworks and was kind enough to offer a demonstration of her desktop to myself and some others that she met at #CHRU. The demonstration was impressive: Flora’s done some great things and it made me think in particular about engagement, a topic which cropped up here a few weeks back and which I’m increasingly of the view is a term on the ropes with its gum shield out looking for a white towel.

A-man-feeds-a-squirrel-in-002Flora’s use of the wiki is inspired. New staff post a profile of themselves as part of the induction process. Once introduced to the tool, they are free to post news and update product knowledge and client process libraries unfettered by management. Flora demonstrated some systemised learning areas that are neat and well designed but for me it was the vibrancy of the bits of the wiki run by and for the staff that stole the show. The wiki uses Google Sites, which is easy and intuitive to use compared to the clunky SharePoint and Flora is also helped by an employee population with the advantages of youth and web suavity but none the less, the dynamism and energy on view was breathtaking. It might look like a teenagers bedroom in parts, but, like Oedipus to the intranet’s Laius, Flora’s wiki has elbowed the communications department to one side and was busy having its way with the staff. One post in particular caught my eye. A copywriter had posted a short piece on grammar that was apparently part of a weekly series from her. She had done this on her own initiative without direction or control from her managers. She had posted this particular entry just after midnight. I wonder how engaged this copywriter is?

The CIPD say that the first step on any employee engagement exercise is measurement through survey. Any number of vendors will happily agree and most consultants would collect some data through surveys or focus groups before embarking on workshops and communications training for managers. I just wonder how it is that we have forgotten what we already know. In experiments that have been repeated many times since, Fredrick Hertzberg identified achievement and recognition as being the prime motivators of people at work and company policy and administration as being the prime de-motivators. He published this in a book ‘Motivation to Work’ which first hit the shops in 1959.

It seems to me, as Charlie Judy says, that if you have to ask whether or not your workforce is engaged , you already have your answer and you should do something about it, not bug them with some dumb survey. It also seems to me that the first step in employee engagement is to sweep admin. away rather than put more stuff between people and getting the job done.

Flora’s wiki is a masterpiece of minimalism and a better model for engagement than any survey led consultancy exercise: she’s built it and has had the wisdom to step back and let the people come.