Ideas and insights for today’s people-centered leaders.



The 3 Things You Must do to Build a Collaborative Workforce

How do the tech giants maintain the innovation and alignment inherent in startup-like cultures?

At Google, employees ask questions directly to execs in weekly all-hands (“TGIF”) meetings, and company cafes are designed to encourage interactions between employees within and across teams. At Facebook’s Disney-inspired Menlo Park headquarters (which boasts 9 restaurants), employees typically work at long tables in open rooms, and buildings come equipped with garages that host group hacking projects.

A theme park-style campus may seem rather lavish, but the focus on teamwork is tied to very real business needs: Well-networked employees who belong to organizations that consciously build collaboration are more innovative, faster at problem solving, and quicker to respond to market shifts, all of which create a hard-to-copy competitive advantage.

So how can you build a collaborative culture if you don’t have the budget for a complete redesign of your corporate headquarters? Or what if you are managing distributed teams? And how can workforce analytics help?

The first step is to understand the employee movement – how people change roles within and across teams in your organization. This can give you insight into how knowledge and skills move, and the impact to employee networks. As more businesses rely on talent that is broadly distributed and increasingly scarce, understanding and managing how employee movement supports collaborative performance is vital. At the same time, too much movement can be detrimental, with people constantly re-forming relationships and re-learning their roles.

Workforce analytics can help you to measure, and obtain, an optimal level of movement through a focus on the following areas:

#1. Movement in and out of organizational units

When a strong performer switches business units, the team they leave behind may lose out. It is crucial to determine which teams are the most critical for business results, then ensure these groups are gaining — not losing — talent.

#2. Promoting from within

Too often the assumption is that no one in the business can do the work, so it is quicker and safer to hire from outside. However, evidence suggests that internal candidates often perform better, more quickly and stay longer than “stars” who are parachuted in. Tracking promotions, lateral moves, and the relative performance of these individuals generates insight that should shape talent decisions across the business.

#3. Leadership and succession

According to the father of human capital strategic analysis and measurement, Dr. Jac Fitz Enz, there is a direct correlation between better succession management and organizational revenue. Tracking employee movement, promotions, and key experiences provides insight into the organizational pathways that have developed your brightest and best. These models allow you to identify other likely succession candidates and take a proactive approach to building the current and future leaders in your business.

At the end of the day, a sound organizational hierarchy, optimal distribution of work, and clearly defined business units will not amount to much without another key element: a strong employee network. Companies that ignore the bonds between people do so at their peril.

About the author: Dave Weisbeck

Dave enjoys problems that require both logical and creative solutions, and thus exercise both his left- and right-brain. He started out his career in the 90s writing code as a computer programmer, and then moved on to product management, marketing and general management roles. Dave has a strong background in analytics, having played a key role in the analytics businesses at SAP, Business Objects, and Crystal Decisions. At Visier, he looks after product and market strategy. A proficient do-it-yourselfer (he made his own PVR for fun), Dave’s hobbies include the logical and creative challenges of cooking, home brewing, and photography.

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