Month: April 2019

Improve Employee Experience with Diversity AND Inclusion with Tayo Rockson

No one would ever say that Diversity and Inclusion isn’t important. No one would ever say that they aren’t trying to have a more diverse and inclusive workplace. And yet, we still have issues with both diversity and inclusion.

Organizations that are not diverse will not perform as well as those that are. Diversity brings to the table the ability to innovate. Without a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, organizations will find themselves stuck in the same routine implementing the same ideas. Fortunately, in the past decades we have definitely improved in our ability to hire a more diverse workforce. The workplace of today does not look like the workplace of 20 years ago. But while we are moving in the right direction with diversity (and there’s a lot of work to be done), we still struggle with inclusion.

The reason diversity and inclusion are paired together is because one without the other is largely ineffective. If we are hiring a diverse workforce simply to check an HR box, then we missing a huge opportunity to add value to our organization. We must hire a diverse workforce AND ensure that everyone feels included. Without inclusion we don’t get to draw on the benefits of diversity. If we have a diverse workplace but all the decision makers have the same background, then our efforts fall short. If we want an organization that leads the industry in innovation and progress, then we have to make sure that everyone in the organization feels included. Only with inclusion do people feel empowered to suggest new ideas and have the platform on which to do so.

If it’s such a great thing, why isn’t everyone doing it?

In a recent podcast with Tayo Rockson, diversity and inclusion consultant and author of Use Your Difference to Make a Difference, spoke to the idea of intentionality as a huge barrier to progress in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplaces. He detailed that organizations can’t simply decide to be diverse and inclusive. Not being against diversity and inclusion (while obviously a good start) is simply not enough to affect real change. Organizations must be consciously intentional about how they are going to facilitate inclusion and promote a diverse workplace. It doesn’t just happen. To hear the rest of the podcast go to Forging Employee Experience. To connect with Tayo, reach out to him via LinkedIn or through his website and don’t forget to pre-order his book!

Diversity and inclusion is a huge opportunity to help an organization grow. It is a competitive advantage that will absolutely help companies outpace their competition. But to seize that advantage, organizations must be deliberate and intentional about how they implement.




Most Feedback Hurts Employee Engagement with Joe Hirsch

In an effort to further the development of direct reports, management often attempts to provide effective feedback. While these efforts are usually accompanied with the best of intentions, by and large, they act as a detriment to the overall employee experience. Feedback is one of those tools that when not done intentionally is often done wrong. Part of this intentionality is the idea that it has to be consistent and with a proper understanding of context.

One of the first big mistakes of feedback is that it just happens when necessary. Well, this presupposes that all feedback is corrective – which is a huge part of the problem. We seem to be hardwired to wait for some negative performance to kick off the feedback-flag in our brains. When a direct report does something incorrectly, our old-school management mindsets are ready to swoop in and provide feedback. This type of behavior contributes to a reinforcement of the idea that all feedback is bad. These patterns are recognized almost instantly by employees and once rooted in the mind of a direct report, it’s a tough uphill battle to try and initiate any feedback conversation where the employee doesn’t automatically get defensive. In most companies, this pattern of feedback-on-mistake is all too common (although it’s better than waiting till a month later to correct the mistake…). It is unclear which management training guide is responsible for indoctrinating all our managers with these detrimental practices. Regardless, we must retrain ourselves to think of feedback moments as opportunities to both praise and correct our employees. This is done by providing feedback on a consistent basis. When, as is most often the case, there is nothing corrective to discuss, use these feedback moments as an opportunity to pour sincere praise on employees for the good work they’ve been doing. This consistency will ensure that feedback doesn’t become taboo.

In recent podcast with Joe Hirsch Managing Director of Semaca Partners, we had the opportunity to discuss the ever popular, Feedback Sandwich. One of the most common ways to provide negative feedback is to “soften the blow” by sandwiching the negative feedback between two compliments. While a cursory review of this practice may reveal an amount of merit, the poor context this form of feedback provides ends up doing more harm than good. Joe discusses how by repeatedly providing feedback in this same format, most employees leave the conversation unclear about what to do next. He goes on to say that when folks leave these types of conversations, they are typically hanging on to the last thing that was said. This is the worst-case scenario. Now there is a manager who thinks he/she has provided effective constructive feedback and an employee who think he/she was just praised for a job well done, missing the need for improvement. To hear the rest of the podcase, visit Forging Employee experience. To stay in touch with Joe, visit him on LinkedIn or at his website. His amazing book on feedback is a must read and available on Amazon at The Feedback Fix.

Efforts to bolster the employee experience must include better feedback. To be successful, managers must provide consistent feedback given with the right context (either positive or negative). This will allow for an atmosphere of feedback that doesn’t inherently bring with it an overabundance of negativity.

Survey Data and the Employee Experience with Kasper Hulthin

Despite the overwhelming advances in technology, we still haven’t made much progress in really knowing what people are thinking. While machine powered analytics can parse through an ocean of data to give insights on behaviors and tendencies, if we really want to know what someone is thinking – we’ve got to ask. The ability to survey a population provides huge insights into understanding the what and why of any particular population.

Decades ago savvy, marketing experts realized that surveying customers would help them better understand their target audience. However, the value of the data was never in the asking, but in the listening. By listening and acting on the survey/review data, organizations have found great success in making sure they only produce goods/services that customers want to buy.

Recently, organizations have caught on to the idea that this same principle applies to its employees. For companies that are cognizant of the mission-critical importance of the Employee Experience, being able to survey their employees is a huge advantage. By asking the right questions, organizations can gain insights into the lives/well-being of its workforce, these insights can drive change and produce a positively boost employee engagement.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just asking employees questions and figuring out what to do with the answers. The factors that affect each employees experience are numerous. Being able to piece together a series of questions where the answers accurately reflect an employee’s experience or level of engagement is no small feat.

One of the main difficulties of getting good date from your employees is asking the right question.

The other major element to gathering survey data was highlighted by a recent guest on our podcast Kasper Hulthin, cofounder and Chief Growth Office of PeakOn. He said that people don’t respond to a survey to give feedback, rather they respond to a survey to be heard. If employees don’t see meaningful change to prove that management is listening to their responses, they will stop giving honest answers. When employers ask for employees to take the time to let them know how everything is going, employers must respect that effort; otherwise, future survey attempts will be fruitless. To hear the rest of Kasper’s episode, visit us at Forging Employee Experience. Feel free to reach out to Kasper through LinkedIn or visit

Surveying employees is a powerful tool (and currently the only tool) in understanding how to improve the employee experience. To harness that potential, organizations must ensure that their questions are expertly crafted to provide meaningful insights and that once they have those insights, they make actual changes to prove to their people that they are listening.