An Architecture Built Around People—Not Surveys
The traditional, archaic models of gathering and analyzing employee feedback are failing organizations, needlessly. In order to serve modern organizations — employees, managers, leaders, and HR teams — we’ve built a completely new architecture for understanding the way employees feel, how they’re doing, and how to improve (and so much more). This is the architecture that innovative organizations such as Intuit, LinkedIn, and Sky are thriving on. To understand why we spent thousands of hours, and brought together a team of top-notch engineers, OD scientists, AI researchers, and human-centered designers to overhaul the foundation of what’s driving people success, read these all-too-familiar stories below:
Problems at Acme Corp
At Acme Corp, a successful (and very much fictional) company, the CEO is worrying about the future. Month after month, across departments, Acme’s best people are leaving to go to the competition. The last engagement survey (from a year ago) had very encouraging results—so why are her top performers leaving now? What happened to her highly engaged employees in the last year?
She calls up her head of HR to ask her advice.
“I have an idea,” the CEO says. “Can’t we simply connect the engagement survey with the exit survey to get insight into why people who used to be highly engaged just a year ago are leaving?”
There is a moment of silence.
“We can’t,” says her head of HR. “These are two separate surveys…”
“Wait, but didn’t we just switch to the same survey platform for all our surveys?”
“Well, yes, it’s the same vendor, but these are different surveys,” comes the unhappy response, “They don’t talk to each other. We can’t tell why previously engaged people are leaving, even though we have all the data on the same survey platform.”
The CEO has a sinking feeling. She wonders if it’s even worth asking the next question on her mind: “So… I assume this means we can’t connect our manager effectiveness survey with the data from the engagement survey to learn what specific manager qualities have the most positive impact on engagement?”
Reorg Worries at Wiley, Inc.
At Wiley Inc., another fictional (but also successful, road running) business, there has been a reorganization in response to a new business model. Many managers have new people transferred to their teams, and several teams have either been merged or split in two.
Wiley’s leaders send out a short survey to get a pulse check on how people feel after the reorganization. They expect that the results will help them address any gaps and opportunities quickly and adjust their strategy accordingly. But when they close the survey and the results make it into their hands, they realize they have a problem. The trends don’t make any sense!
Because teams that existed earlier have different names now or have become parts of other teams, they don’t know how they can calculate trends. What a painful exercise it would be to map old teams—numbering in the hundreds—to new teams! And, wait, what was that about needing to have done this mapping exercise before the survey launched? What about the reports that managers get? When a manager gets a brand new team, should their past trend reflect the scores of the team that they used to manage, or the team that they now manage? Why can’t they have both? How do teams know if they’re improving or not when all the trends are suspect?
Ugh. What a mess.
The Failings of Survey-Centric Systems
Acme Corp and Wiley, Inc. may be fictional companies, but the problems they face are not a caricature. In fact, they represent the vast majority of organizations today. The problems faced by Acme and Wiley are a result of what we call ‘survey-centric systems’. Like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, organizations have been trying to force survey-management technology to fit the needs of modern, dynamic organizations. These systems fail to make sense of employee experiences that tend to be rich with formative and developmental events scattered across broad and lengthy lifecycles.
Because they don’t have an alternative, organizations either:
Give up trying to understand and harness evolving organizational structures, struggle with connecting to disparate systems of record, neglect linking to dynamic business outcomes, and forget about many other items on the HR wish list, or…
End up paying for additional analysis and consulting services, and wait months for insights, or…
Go so far as to create and maintain an internal data warehouse, hiring and maintaining a staff of data analysts to manage the warehouse, generate reports, and deal with other challenges.
The crux of the issue is that with ‘survey platforms’, the survey is at the center of the data model, with each survey program essentially its own universe. Data remains captive within surveys, and different types of surveys don’t talk to each other. Because responses are silo-ed within surveys, it becomes a laborious effort to analyze data across survey programs or link to business outcomes. Also, quite often, because surveys are treated as point-in-time snapshots, it’s hard to collect feedback on an ongoing basis while the organization is also changing.
This is an unfortunate situation to be in. Creating a parallel between organizational health and patient health, imagine for a moment that you are tasked with evaluating a medical records system and you are informed that you can only examine each vital stat in isolation and can’t connect them together. For example, you can view blood pressure by itself, but cannot relate it with other health indicators like body temperature or cholesterol levels, etc. Why would you be willing to function under these discouraging parameters? This is the state of survey measurement and organizational health metrics in most companies today.
Introducing a People-Centric Architecture
At Glint, we built a platform that was architected from the ground up to address the needs of modern organizations, which, by definition, are dynamic, fluid, and connected. We’re a people success company, not a survey company (although pulses are one of the things we do really, really well!). Realizing the limitations of survey-centric thinking, we invented a fundamentally new architecture that revolves around people, not surveys. We brought together the best thinking in Organizational Development & I-O Psychology, cutting-edge advances in AI, machine learning, and real-time technology, and combined it with a beautiful, intuitive user experience designed to be used by everyday people, rather than just analysts and consultants.
In Glint’s architecture, the individual, not the survey, is at the center of the data model. All kinds of data events — pulse survey responses, ad-hoc feedback, performance information, goals & objectives, HRIS data, demographic information, changes to role, manager, promotions & other lifecycle events, or even fast-moving business KPIs — revolve around people, not surveys. It doesn’t matter if the data comes from surveys, pulses, always-on channels, or from multiple disparate sources and data feeds (HRIS, HCM, CRM, ERP, etc.), everything is tied together onto a clean, secure, versioned timeline of information. Real-time insights come from aggregating individuals at various scales of resolution and from various time periods, as needed. It becomes easy to manage change because everything in the past is versioned, and anything in the past can be retroactively changed (in real time) without the fear of losing old information.
The Advantages of a Re-imagined Architecture for People Success
Much of what used to be hard or impossible to do is now not only possible, but possible in real time. As we continue to roll out groundbreaking functionality that leverages this unique architecture, we see more and more examples of transformational change in organizations. The benefits are clear: Conversations with employees become fluid, on-going events. Real-time business outcome linkage allows for timely predictions and “what if” analyses. Managers and employees get fresh, timely data & insights, empowering them to affect change at the grassroots. The boundaries between different types of surveys disappear, providing rich insight across the entire employee experience, rather than just one piece at a time.
The holistic view afforded by Glint’s unique data model tightens confidentiality and privacy protection across surveys and other types of feedback, not just one survey at a time. And you don’t have to worry about the mechanics of what happens when a team re-orgs — whether the data should follow the employee or whether it should follow the manager. You only need to think about the questions to ask that will best inform your actions and your strategy (our team of OD experts can help with that!).
Good thing Acme Corp and Wiley, Inc. will be switching over to Glint soon (in their respective fictional universes, that is). At Glint, we love happy and successful endings, and we’d love to help you transform your organization.
To learn more about how Glint can help your people be happier and more successful at work, get in touch with us.