Transcript

Josh Drean: Welcome back listener to Forging Employee Experience. I’m Josh Drean joined here with my co-host Alexander Noren.

Alexander Noren: Hey everybody! How’s it going?

Josh Drean: We are so excited of our guest today. I’m just percutaling with excitement right now.

Alexander Noren: That’s true, he’s percolating.

Josh Drean: If you see our studio right now, there’s a lot of percolation going on over here but we have with us in the studio Eric Rowlee, how are you Eric?

Eric Rowlee: I’m doing well guys, how are you?

Josh Drean: We’re great. Thank you so much for spending some time jumping on the horn with us and talking a little about your expertise. Before we jump to far on this, let me just tell you a little about Eric Rowlee. Eric is the Director of Change, Training and Communication at Walmart. LEt’s all just keep in mind that Walmart employees are over 2.1 million people world wide. That’s about 1.4 million in the United States alone. You got your work cut out for you Eric.

Eric Rowlee: Yeah, things are big here. It’s just good.

Josh Drean: Eric holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brigham Young University, a masters degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology in the University of Nebraska. He has an MBA in Brigham Young University. He has a big beautiful family, we’re talking 7 kids living in Arkansas. He’s got a farm, crops that he is growing.

Alexander Noren: He’s got it all. Holy smokes.

Eric Rowlee: Who doesn’t need 10 years of student loans, right? Why not get a handful of degrees. Life is fun, good times.

Josh Drean: I’ve spent some time with your family and we look up to you guys as the example family. My wife all the time says, “I wish I could be like the Rowlee’s.”

Eric Rowlee: Just let us know if you are coming by so we can make sure to clean up first.

Josh Drean: Well, go ahead and fill in some of that introduce there. Is there anything that I left out that you want our listeners to know about.

Eric Rowlee: No, no. I think that’s great. I mean, that’s me in a nutshell. That’s a good job.

Josh Drean: Great, great. You’ve been in Walmart for several years now, right?

Eric Rowlee: Yeah, lets see. January makes 8 years and I was in Intel 10 years before this.

Josh Drean: Ummm, Intel. I believe a lot of organizational work as well, correct?

Eric Rowlee: Yeah, very similar work. All of my time in Walmart and Intel has been around organizational effectiveness. So think about organizational effectiveness broadly it includes how do we design an organization, the structure, the boxes and lines in your org chart but also ways of working in processes and do you bring technology into that. How do you make decisions and what are your people practices like whats the blueprint of your organization. Of course, you need to do things differently tomorrow than you do today, you really can’t put those blue print into practice unless your willing to do change. So part of my career has been heavy and change management. Where I spend a lot of my time right now. This concept of associate engagement or employee engagement. Workplace engagement is critical, you can design the perfect blueprint I’m not sure if there is one if there were one, you can design the perfect blueprint and folks are engaged and if they’re just not there it’s not going to work. My career has been this weaving together of org design, change management, high performing teams, and engagement stuff. Pretty cool actually.

Josh Drean: We are so excited to get into that especially Walmart being an enormous company. We want to hear how that change goes down but before we go far into all of the logistics of that. The show, we originally called it Forging Employee Engagement since we moved it to Employee Experience but the word Employee engagement is tossed around and defined in all different ways and so we just want an opinion from the expert. How would you define employee engagement?

Eric Rowlee: Thats a good point. We were chatting before like one of the best things that can happen to a workplace term is it becomes a buzz word but its all kind of bad, everyone gets to make their own definitions. For our conversation, let’s see if we agree on this definition of Engagement. Engagement is what you see when people are fully involved in the work that their doing. Their enthusiastic about its that feeling of investment. I can’t put a single word on Engagement other  then engagement but if you were to take the lid of it and look inside its this feeling of being involved, invested and enthusiasm. To start to hear people say things like, “I want to do this or we’re going to make this successful or I love want I’m doing.” That’s engagement, it inspires people, drives commitment, you might use the word passion. That’s engagement on my head.

Josh Drean: It sounds like a by product of so many things. What I’m getting from you when you say what you see is more of like the result of your efforts.

Eric Rowlee: No, that’s right. It’s kind of like, what is happiness? what is love? Engagement itself is a mental state but it manifests itself in certain ways that actually matter to companies very much. A number of years ago, there’s a research done in Galop Organization was big into research the US Government was involved number of organizations. They found that depending on how you measure it, engagement actually cost the US economy anywhere in between 250-350 billion dollars annually. I know 250-350 billion is a big range or large margin of error but either way those are big numbers. Let say 300 billion, 300 billion that’s a lot of money in my house, right? For companies who are just trying to peak out 1% more productivity like most companies, like systems trying to put a dollar sign of what you lose because of disengaged employees. I mean that’s material, that hit your balance sheet. Research went further, companies highly engaged with employees outperform their peers. Employees outperform their peers like 20% if they’re highly engaged and they’ve got lower turnover. They’re almost, almost 90% less likely to leave. And there’s this whole body research about the cost of turnover, the actual cost, the hidden cost. Turnovers are expensive. If your 90% less likely to leave because you’re engaged, man if you worked for me, I’m going to trying your engagement. Things like operating margins down up like 3-4% thats alot, 2% rise in net profits. So when you start to put actual dollars and present its points around what is engagement for me is like its not just warm and fuzzy. We might think, “Well, I’m here for business”. People just have a job and they come to there job, I don’t need the warm and fuzzy all over. No, no, no. This is your profit here. You’re trying to be a successful company whether your in it for the money or whether your a non-profit organization or even a church like whatever your out to do, you’ll be more successful because your folks are engaged.

Alexander Noren: It couldn’t be more true and I feel like this idea of engagement has been around long enough now were the data has kind of shifted through the market and I don’t this idea of engagement is right. Like you mentioned before, it’s a buzz word now. People know about it, people understand that it’s out there and yet for me it’s almost paradoxical. I feel like I have these people, these organizations – these smart people, their intelligent humans that are leading these organizations that are still struggling with engagement. That says to me that engagement while in this couple of minutes here, we had a really good definition to it. There’s gotta be something about that tricks people up, prevents people from really getting it right. So what goes to this idea of engagement? How do we make it happen?

Eric Rowlee: Thats a good question. Let me get a little mathematically with you here. I’m just going to give you an ample.

Alexander Noren: All right. Let’s do it.

Eric Rowlee: I’m going to give you a couple of formulas. The first one is a formula about performance and you’ll see engagement is part of that. We’ll unpack engagement and you’ll see in the second formula. What goes into engagement? Think of it this way, if I’m responsible for a team whether its for a profit context or non-profit, whatever. Performance matters, we come together as a team to do something, think of the formula this way, performance equals ability times engagement times environment. Again, ability, engagement, environment. So think about ability is do we have the skills we need. in fact, lets simply it on the individual level. There’s a guy on my team, he’s got a job to do and he comes to the table with his individual skills, the training that I’m going to provide, he has a certain capacity for the work, he got experience, a certain level of maturity. So he comes to work in the morning with a level of ability. That’s you first variable. Second variable would be the engagement we’ll dove into further but just for a minute engagement and does he feel that sense of commitment, does he have high jobs satisfaction, does he want to be here, does he like the work, does he feel this willingness to sacrifice and go above and beyond, that’s variable number 2. Number 3 is environment like so when he gets to work, does he have the right tools and resources, systems to do his job, do he have enough time to do this job, do I support him as his boss, does he have a team around him that either facilitates or gets in the way of that, is the workplace dirty, dangerous and noisy, or is it facilitative for work and concentration? So again, performance equals ability times engagement time environment. Now, it’s times not plus so if any of those is zero it blows up the others like you know, a loss. High ability

Alexander Noren: Remember that from Algebra, Josh. The zero thing.

Josh Drean: Yeah, right.

Eric Rowlee: I only know that because I got high schoolers with Algebra right now, it reminded me of that. Thats last night at the table.

Alexander Noren: I have thought of Algebra in a decade.

Eric Rowlee: I promise we won’t get any harder than that with the Math rite.

Alexander Noren: We need a tutor here. Sorry, go ahead, Eric.

Eric Rowlee: I’ll go slow so imagine, imagine you got just the right person you hired and their fantastic and they have all the skills, training and maturity and professional poise that you want and the environment is awesome. All the right tools and resources, theres a team there. Clear vision and mission, its great but their not engaged for whatever reason. High ability times high environment times zero engagement is going to equal zero. And if its low engagement, it’s going to equals to something low. Again, its performance to be composed of these 3 things. Anyone of them being low will sink your ship. Ability we get because I’m going to hire carefully and I can train and I can give experience. Environment that’s easy too, I can make sure you have great tools, laptop, access to all the systems we’re good at that. the middle piece, engagement is usually the lowest number that tanks ultimately performance. Got it?

Josh Drean: Yeah, it feels like this engagement piece is the reason why companies I feel high turnover is because they haven’t quite yet figure out the engagement piece because like you said sometimes we view it as fluffy or the Hr Director does not have the resources that he/she needs to be able to implement the initiatives that will drive through change. What practical advice could you give us to start down this journey of increasing our engagement?

Eric Rowlee:  Good question. Here’s the second formula. First formula, performance equals ability times engagement times environment. Let’s take the lid of engagement and look inside, what goes into that middle box. Formula number 2 is this, how engaged am I equals, now this is every individual in my head. How engage am I equals my belief in my ability, can I even do this multiplied by my trust in the outcome, if I do it will I hit the objective, will I get the reward and multiply by a third thing which is value, how much do I want for the object or reward. So again, my ability, sorry, my belief in my ability times my trust in the outcome times how much do I want that outcome. Again, if anyone of those is low or zero, your sunk. So how engaged am I? A. my belief in my ability, of course I can do this, I’ve done it from my 3 previous jobs. I’m great at it, I’ve been well trained, I’ve been to conferences, I’ve great mentors, I can totally do this. B. Trust in the outcome, I can execute this. I’ll hit the objective, I’ll hit them on time and on budget, we will definitely land the plane. it’s going to be great. C. How much do I value the objective? I don’t know, I mean, it’s not much. Maybe that objective seems irrelevant to me or I don’t see how it fits on the big picture at all. Say I’m going for promotion, my belief in my job, yeah of course, I can do my job. Im totally able and I totally value, I completely completely value that promotion but do I trust about the outcome that middle space there? Like I don’t trust that, if I do my job super well the promotions never coming. Seen guys around me doing super well and they don’t get promoted either so again how engaged am I ? Mu beliefs in my ability time my trust in the outcome time how much I want the outcome and if anyone of those is low, your engagements going to be low. I just said a minute ago, it affects you performance.

Alexander Noren: And it sounds like those 3 elements, when we talk about ability and environment in the previous formula and both of those seem the be pretty in control of the company like you mentioned but it also seemed like this 3 additional, your perceived ability. It’s something that the company can help you  see that there’s value in it. That there’s going to the outcomes that you desire would say the company has a major impact on these 3 elements.

Eric Rowlee: Absolutely.Just take the first one, beliefs in my ability so if I hire somebody and then I find out that the job they are in, maybe it was not what they thought it would be or they don’t feel qualified or whatever and I’m worried about their belief in their ability. I can do things like provide a crystal clear picture of success looks like. I can, you know, success metrics, you can have a clear road map, dashboard. Whatever that person needs, I can paint the picture of success. I can give them the right training whether its in-house, I can send them away or give them a mentor whose good at this, I can demonstrate that I can be there and move barriers like yeah, they’re going to trip up because there’s a learning curve but I’m not going to kick them out when they trip, I want to be there to help and dust themselves off and learn from that experience and go. So by doing things like that, I can boost their beliefs in their ability. Trust in the outcome, sorry if I cut you off.

Josh Drean: I think that’s perfect. I just really want to get into trusting the outcome part as far as like the company is concerned because if your employees can’t trust that it’s going to work out in their favors, work out favorborably then it negates the their formula.

Alexander Noren: This has be to were managers has to be on point. I think it’s pretty easy to check the box and say yes. We able this person, their belief in their self and abilities is good but they don’t really feel safe. You talked about making these mistakes which is part of growth, right? These making mistakes and hopefully you fall forward right whenever you fall that very much part of the environment that in general by your direct supervisor.

Eric Rowlee:  Yeah, absolutely. When it comes to beliefs to my ability, just call it dumb luck. Cards are stack besides the manager because most people believe their able.   You do have some people who struggle with confidence but in terms of job context, most of the time, if you pulled a thousand people within the organization. 950 of them are going to say, “No, I’m good of what I do.” right?

Alexander Noren: Yup, yup.

Eric Rowlee: Or maybe some disconnect they say, “I’m good with my career but what I’ve been asked to do, I don’t know how to do that.” You put me in the wrong job. imagine something like that happening. Now trust in the outcome, say somebody wants to be promoted and im their manager, I can say, “Hey look if you can do these things, demonstrate these type of behaviours, and take on these type of projects just like Bob, and Sally and Sue over here over the last year they were all promoted and they started where you started or if its a larger project and look everytime we;ve done a project like this, we reduced cost by 5%. This shouldn’t be any different. So whatever the outcome is, you can call out similar projects similar efforts have been successful. And then values are very individual thing, the value I placed on that outcome is going to be an individual thing. Maybe I dnt get to jazzed up about saving the company 2% or I will get jazzed saving the company 2%, everyone is different. As the boss, as the manager, Im going to look for connections between what my team members value and what the objective is. I maybe in a big project here at the company that im currently with. My team and I were working on something that’s going to make life’s better for all of our employees. Well, I can show them what better looks like because they are counting on us. I can raise that value component as well.

Josh Drean: Let’s unpack that value component a little bit because a lot of times I think that gets lost in definition has well because a lot of companies will say, “Oh we just need a cost and that will fix everything” You studied in depth motivation theory and it’s a very complicated thing but if anyone understands it well it’s you. In the context of employee engagement and this formulas, how do we define that value or how do we cover that value for our employees?

Eric Rowlee: Well, that’s a great question and your right. There kind of ace up your sleeve, I didn’t call out on the formula. there’s a wild card bonus if you want. Its you wild draw forth card, the coveted card. So go back to the formula, how engaged am I equals my belief in my ability times the outcome of my efforts times how I value that outcome. But there’s this other thing on the side that’s not bounded by the laws of physics in terms of those 3 components it stands independent and its we all call intrinsic motivation. Those first 3 things I talked about are very extrinsic, we’re talking about things like training, promotion, saving the company money, objectives, there’s no sin there. It’s fine to be motivated extrinsically, we call that coming to work everyday. But intrinsic motivation is important too and its stands independent that it has nothing to do with the outcome or the 2% or whatever. its how much do I love this? How much do I get jazzed up by the work? If I work in a non-profit, do I really feel like its my call to help these people. if in work in a company, do I really feel like I’m part of something big, we’re kind of putting a dent in the world. We’re changing things here. Intrinsically, independ of anything else. Does my heart pump a little faster like lets get started? Managers benefit from this because even if im struggling to see the connection between my efforts and my outcome like 2% or whatever, but I love what I do. Maybe I’m a corporate trainer. Man, I just love training people and I love training them and see the light come on, see their eyes light up and the stuff that I’m training the on, Im neutral. But I love training well I’m going to be a pretty good trainer, right? So think about it in terms of this bigger buckets, extrinsic motivation the first 3 we talked about and then intrinsic is additive. Even if something is missing in extrinsic buckets and it turns out to be low or zero, intrinsic motivation can save the day. That’s very individual.

Alexander Noren: How do we harness that intrinsic motivation?

Josh Drean: Its very individualistic, everyone’s different and every single individual and every intrinsic motivator,it can get overwhelming.

Alexander Noren: Absolutely.

Eric Rowlee: Absolutely. Absolutely. A few things you can do, one is upfront in the selection process people carry their intrinsic motivation to the interview, right? To the selection process, if I know what the work looks like, if I know your upfront in training people 4 days a week or your going to be training around the world or your going to be looking for very small errors in accounting to keep us from court or whatever for various things. I can be bringing that to the interview and I can be producing and testing for where is your interest, what make you tick as a person. O can ask questions like in your spare time like a weekend to kill, what do you do or what do you do in the evening or what makes you tick? And then I can lay that template as the role say, “Well, you got great skills and I want you on the team but for a different role, this role is not going to jazz you up.”

Josh Drean: That value is not a perfect match.

Eric Rowlee: No its not. That probably not a scientific interview question although I know there’s some research about that and there’s evidence to say, “Look giving someone a real estate job preview and having an honest discussion about on how it stands up their interests and motives that does lean toward helping them to be successful once their in role. Real estate preview that includes the elements of the role, against your intrinsic motivation, yeah, there’s science there. I would add once I have people on my team and Im aligning team members to assignments and dividing up the work I can also get an understanding if im their boss it would be better to know what their intrinsic motivators are. you know some people really value my time out of work please don’t cut into my evening. Some people love to travel, some people love challenge, some people love this one part of the business because they just relate to it, I don’t know but I need to find out what motivates my folks. So when I’m assigning them different jobs when them came across my inbox I can get some kind of alignment between assignments and interests.

Alexander Noren: that sounds a lot of work.

Eric Rowlee: It is. It is.

Alexander Noren: That’s important to highlight because all to often people are looking into this space and they listen to people that know about it and their queued in the magic bullet. Even here, you are right with your formulas it’s almost sounds too good to be true, “Oh, this is it. We just apply this formulas and were set. “Yeah, but to do right managers need to realize that part of being a manager is not only the administrative function of getting task completed but also the people skills and better understanding who you are incharge of. There’s no shortcut to that, no shortcut to getting to know people, it just takes time and lot of times people are unwilling perhaps they don’t see the benefit or they were never really good at it whatever the case may be, I think it’s important to highlight that. Hey, we are trying to understanding what intrinsic motivation of employees that inherently will require effort and time on behalf of the managers.

Eric Rowlee: Yeah, your exactly right. I mean, there’s no kind of sounding like high on the sky or ivory tower or whatever. Probably there’s a podcast on a different day but what your touching on is the difference between managing and leading, right?

Alexander Noren: Your absolutely right. Your absolutely right.

Eric Rowlee: I can bring people in fill the seat then the work and pay them at the end of the week all day long. If I hire farely well.

Alexander Noren: Your hire for skill for the very least.

Eric Rowlee: Hire for skill, keep their job. People are generally good folks and they want to do a good job things are generally going to be okay. But I want to be in those companies that outperform their peers that have lower turnover, that have larger increase as an operating margin and net profits, if I want to be in those companies, I can’t just manage I have to lead and leading involves understanding how people think and what they feel and how they tick. Letting that guide my decisions about work assignments and its all of that. I can get away without the extra effort and just manage or I can lead those who do there are benefits.

Josh Drean: Its so important to know that we’re not just trying to manage individuals. I know that Dan Pink says, “Managers are a tool that we invented to help get work done, get results as well..”

Alexander Noren: Tasked accomplished, right?

Josh Drean: Boxes checked and I just loved we’re talking about right now is moving beyond just being a manager or moving beyond hiring something, somebody its got to start with the on boarding process. Someone would just look at their resume, find out what makes them tick, make sure they are the right fit because in doing so your more likely going to retain them longer.

Alexander Noren: Its interesting too with technology increasing that way that it is. I’ve been reading a lot more, seeing a lot more articles being published about how some organizations are afraid. Employees are afraid being replaced by machine learning. its AI component, its interesting that you have an organization that is strictly focused on box checking making sure task are accomplished. Well, then those employee should be a little concerned that computers are going to take their jobs because a computer can check boxes very well but if you have an organization that focused on the stuff and the people and understanding what makes them move and helping them create an environment that allows them to succeed then all of the sudden it’s now, “Wait, I’m not worried about a machine taking away routine tasks because I will embrace it employee knowing that just open opportunities from you to grow and value elsewhere.

Eric Rowlee: That’s exactly right. If you want large scale value from all of these you have to pay attention to both extrinsic motivation because rewards matter, outcomes matter, training matters, all of that. you have to figure out the intrinsic part and embrace the intrinsic part. Managers will have a difficult time, it might be impossible to direct affect somebody’s intrinsic motivation, they just have it. What motivates them, right? Best they can do is to learn what people are passionate about and then align their job, their assignment to those areas of passion at least some of the time. Now look, it’s just not realistic all love every single minute of our job that’s not realistic but it is realistic to think the people that are on my team, I can do the best I can to align them to some of the times. Overall, they do have that intrinsic motivation checked then the extrinsic motivation, I can check that otherwise and the benefit is in two spaces a lot of research are behind this not the least of which corporate, CLC I know your familiar with that, right? it’s the CLC research shows that when you get those two things right extrinsic and intrinsic motivation intent to stay really really goes up so retention are they here? And discretionary effort so performance. Discretionary effort in my head is there’s a minimal amount of effort I have to do everyday. to keep my job. Some jobs take a lot of effort but I know what the cutoff is. I don’t have to do one unit more of effort and I’ll keep my job forever but discretionary effort would be above that line, I’m going to keep giving. I’m going to stay late, I’m going to innovate and collaborate, I’m going to step in with on of my colleagues who is struggling, I’m going to share, all of these things that give the companies the edge. So intent to stay is retention but discretionary effort touches on performance so are they here and are they hooked? When you figure out extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, yeah, now you got it.

Alexander Noren: Right.

Josh Drean: That’s really amazing. So many good gems coming out of this, I think that corporations and listeners are learning that there’s a formula that they can apply its not just some fluffy..

Alexander Noren: Make everyone happy..

Eric Rowlee: Make everyone happy, trying to figure out like it does really give you the edge where it does affect the bottomline. Talk to us a little about, what does it look like in practice? You’re not just an expert going around speaking on the subject. You actually in the trenches at Walmart for trying to implement change training, communication and for 2 million people. Just a little look inside of what that is.

Alexander Noren: Hopefully some hope for those listeners that are trying to change smaller organization.

Eric Rowlee: Your spot on and I’ll just go back to the motivation formula we can call it. The second formula which was how engaged am i, my beliefs in my ability times my trust in the outcome will come times the value of that outcome. when I approach it call me an Internal Consultant and I’m going to go and work with a group of leaders and they describe what they are struggling with and they say look , “Eric, we’ve got really smart people like our problem is not talent but still for some reason, it just seem this are twice hard as ought to be or we missed lines that we should or we’re always over budget I don’t know where that’s coming from.” I go to this motivation formula, I probably go a step earlier in our conversation and go to the performance formula and I’d look at ability and as there telling me they have the right people, I would test that. Do you really have the right people with the right ability? and I’d go to environment, do you have the right systems, resources, time and what not? Let me just unpack that a little bit, the environment its just about systems and resources and time. I found that there’s this whole other realm of potential improvement and its kind of the engagement space that is really demotivating and its around this body of work performing teams. There are some teams that perform and there teams that are able to highly perform. its a low percentage of total team, right? But it feels like do I get connected to the big picture? Do I see how our work matters? Do we raise and resolve conflict quickly around here or do we suppress it until like a pressure cooker it blows. Do we have healthy decision making methods and protocols or is it kind of willy nilly or do we just do nothing until everyone gets a warm and fuzzy hugs, right? Is our decision making productive or broken. Lots of things like that can go into a high performing team and most teams they haven’t crack the code on it. it almost always takes somebody outside from the team to come in and diagnose what your missing and what cylinders you firing on, right? So this ability times engagement times environment, there’s a lot in the environment that isnt I haven’t had a fast enough laptop and access to all the systems. It’s the team around me, are we functional or dysfunctional? And again, ability, engagement, environment, I may be super high on ability skill and frankly very engaged and if my team is broken that’s a whole issue and it will tank my ability and my engagement.

Josh Drean: Right. And at Walmart, your dealing with so many different factors. Holy cow, you’ve got people in the trenches, in the stores doing the work and then you have people in corporate that your dealing with. A whole slew of individuals in between. Their different teams, a lot of different roles and alot of different environment and so how do you manage training and communicating across all of those?

Eric Rowlee: I think we are very similar to a lot of big companies, right? There’s always a corporate office, there’s always either a retail outlet or factory outlets or distribution centers. I mean, we’re certainly not uniques our numbers are going to be different but the way we operate I would guess if I’m honest these things plays out in most companies in a very consistent way. It’s your question about, how to I see it playout? I think it has a lot to do with helping people see the value of their work and helping them see what they do makes a difference. Big companies look at us or anybody, it’s easy to get lost, its easy to say, “We have a enterprise strategy and we have a slogan or whatever you use” but I’m over here with some team under another division and I don’t know how I connected that. I say the slogan before I joined and it was super motivating it kind of gave me chills so I got a job at the company and now I’m here at bookkeeping and I dnt know how that this applies to this slogan over here that made me feel so motivated before. So helping people see that you really are tied to this vision that what you do really does impact customers and your customers maybe online, your customers maybe within law firms or people youre support for non-profit. But me and my role in my desk on a Tuesday, how is it easy for me to see line of sight between me  and the reason the company exists or me, we’re going to do better than this year or me, getting ahead of our competition, overcome a big obstacle or whatever and leaders help people see the connection between me and my desk at a Tuesday and this bigger picture a founder had a vision of and customers are counting on and that’s not unique to my company thats across the board. One of the biggest thing that leaders can do is that, helping them see their connection. Another thing is and this sounds tactical and less romantic but just making sure how to do my job and there’s a lot in there. Did I get the proper training to do my job? Do I know how you measure success because if im ambiguous in terms what success looks like that is demotivating as well. so if you don’t want to put a damper on my engagement, make sure I know what you expect, make sure its realistic, make sure its goal oriented, make sure I know how you are measuring me and then make sure that I see the connecting between that and the outcome. maybe I’m going to a promotion. Okay, so what do you expect before you promote somebody? its have the conversation and be as concrete as possible and then help me believe that when I do those things we agree that i’ve done them I will be promoted or I will get the raise or I will get the cool opportunity the international assigned or whatever it is. Managers can do that just help me understand what success looks like and how can I be successful.

Josh Drean: Yeah, it’s kind of like establishing an expectation or I feel like companies back in the Franklin Covey days the 80s and the 90s, it was like we need to set forth our standards, our ideals and our values. So they would write up some company theme or the values they should rally behind and it was very motivating at first and then all of the sudden it just came something that is posted up on the wall or I have to go through the organization  and ask the employees what the company stands for and actually tell you. I sounds like we want to get it clear on those and actually implement it into everything that you do.

Alexander Noren: And own it, right? The people seems top down ownership, everybody every level has to be on board or it just becomes a slogan on a wall I guess.

Eric Rowlee: Imagine what happens if they are. Imagine what happens if X numbers of employees in your company medium or small when they all feel empowered and excited about it. I’ll tell you a story, true story, personal story. Years ago, we took our daughters that were very young to Disneyland. And day 3 of Disneyland, you can imagine, I’m dragging, pushing strollers and carrying them in the backpack like we’re tired, right? My oldest daughter says, “Okay dad, one more ride” and i’m thinking, “I’m going to amortize this, I’m getting more out of my money, Yeah. Okay, one more ride.” and the park is closing so she wanted to go on this ride that’s why at the back of the pack one of the back corners. So we get there get on the ride, we were probably the last people to get  on it and we come off the ride and it’s dark like the parade of people left the park and I find my wife and my other two daughters now asleep on the bench waiting for us. True story, they are sitting and they have this bright and shiny Mickey Mouse stickers on their jackets and I said, “Where did you get those?” and part of me got thinking, those might be $20 a piece its Disneyland but I was surely interested because the shop are closed. She didn’t buy them. I said, “where did you get those honey?” Cool thing, she said, “The girls are kind of cranky and an older gentleman came by and he was sweeping, he was cleaning up the mess from the day and he saw us here and he saw me kind of wrestling with the girls.” and he said, “Oh hey I have something for you girls okay?” and he gave them each a sticker. Then she said, “Wow, that’s amazing. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and I got to thank you for sweeping because I’ve been always impressed how many people come through and I get here in the morning and it’s like opening day. Its spotless. Here’s what he said, “Well, Walt wanted people to come in and have a special experience. That’s what I want too. Have a good night.” Now come on, like this guy, he’s passed retirement age, doesn’t need to be there, never met Walt Disney, he’s sweeping the ground in a dark distant corner of the park when he didn’t expect anybody to be around. He is doing his job in a way directly connected in the vision of the founder. Holy cow, I’m thinking most companies have a founder with a vision and I know mine does. If can somehow tap into that vision and get my folks, get my team to connect with that, wow. Wow, here’s the thing about tapping that vision is it ties into intrinsic engagement because one of the law of engagement is this write this down, extrinsic engagement used when you checked that box, you give the promotion, give the raise, give the juicy assignment that has a shelf life that is less than when you satisfy intrinsic engagement. Think of the last time you were gunning for a promotion and you got the promotion and you pay went up to 10% like you were jazzed for awhile and then it was a job again but think about the last time doing the thing that you loved or somehow connected with the bigger picture, yeah, it still work but I mean, I get it is clicking for me. The shelf life on that is longer so companies continues to play on extrinsic engagement that find they have to get going back to the well and back to the well. It’s kind of selling your inventory to meet your goals there’s so much inventory to sell off, right?

Alexander Noren: Right.

Eric Rowlee: But companies that can tap into intrinsic engagement either by connecting you to the vision or putting people on a role that gives them the chance to do what they love. Those companies have the secret sauce and it last.

Alexander Noren: This industry and the employee experience and the evolution of employee engagement 2.0 or how you ever want to call it, I think is emerging and so I think there’s a lot of people out there that are sitting here thinking, this is awesome. This is fantastic. In your role specifically, what advice can you give on how organization can go from being a company that either doesn’t really do anything with  engagement or heavily focus on extrinsic, external forces, the outward focusing in on helping people feel motivated and engaged to really tapping into that intrinsic motivation. How does that change happen in an organization as a whole?

Eric Rowlee: Good question again. I would say back to your earlier comment about “Man it sounds a lot of work.” Keeping in mind that companies needs to keeping what they do to stay in business. The doors needs to stay open to stay on since no one has time for this that they even don’t know what to do at time, “Man, we’re totally free on Thursday. What can we do? I know let’s get engaged. That’s not going to happen. So start small and I don’t care if your a manager of a team of five or an executive with a division of give thousand or whatever. Just start small and on the same breathe revamp your process just to include intrinsic motivation and re-assign all your workers to the things that they love and go do a bunch of trainings and build their confidence just too much. Don’t do that. Every company is different, every company is in a different place at the start of the journey and they may have different gaps or opportunity so figure what are your gaps or opportunities are and just do a couple things but do them in a way that sticks like it can’t be the flavor of the month because not really thinking about engagement and then thinking about engagement is behavior change, here’s the change manager coming out in May. The human behavior change is tough like changing the way you think and mental habits is the hardest of all. On the enterprise level, changing the way we thinking about engagement that’s a heavy lift. If you think about, your going to lift something that is heavy, do you want 10 linear foot of it or just 1 linear foot of it. Just start with 1 linear foot of engagement and don’t let something that’s 10 feet wide because you can get off the ground. Start small, pick a couple things, and do them long enough to change the culture.

Alexander Noren: And you alluded to this in your response but just to highlight it, I think to a lot of people say to themselves, “Well, there’s nothing I can do if executives that are bought in to be particular folks in HR, this idea connects with them really well but sometimes I feel kind of handcuffed maybe because they don’t quite the executive buy off. These changes, can people start making substances of changes on their own without having perhaps executive buy offs. Not doing anything against the company by any means. Does the executives need to be converted to this cause of engagement experience all this sort of stuff before individual, team leaders, managers, departments?

Eric Rowlee: No, not at all. In fact, it will go faster since I say faster, it works faster ground up if it was the grass roots because me as a manager of my little team, I have quite of an influence of what happens there. I influence the assignments, I influence rewards, I influence conflict and removing barriers, I can definitely make it my mission to improve my team’s performance by focusing on the engagement bucket. Now, it can’t be all fun like we’re not going to throw the work out and have happy hour everyday because that’s not realistic, right? But I can do something that I’m not doing today and see if it works and see something else. Very rarely do you need the CEO’s approval to take your team to lunch or have a Christmas party or holiday party or whatever you do. You can start small absolutely.

Alexander Noren: Fantastic. That is absolutely incredible.

Josh Drean: Well Eric, we had just a fantastic time chatting and unpacking this wonderful stuff and I think the big takeaway for me is the secret sauce could be many different things but its not a mystery there are ingredients that go through it, there’s a formula if you will and thank you so much for sharing your formula for success in Employee Experience space how we can make the workplace better and happier place to be. Before we close, is there any last minute advice that you want to share with any of our listeners.

Eric Rowlee: No, I think you hit in the head there. It can be overwhelming if you try to swallow it whole just look at the component parts and pick up and work on that one and you can do an experiment see if it works. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming and I think you’ll see results of it.

Josh Drean: Awesome. Well, listeners we’ve been joined here Eric Rowlee. Thank you so much for your insight, we look forward to our next chat.

Alexander Noren: Take care everyone.

Eric Rowlee: Thanks guys.

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