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Employee engagement

Three Ways to Improve Your Company’s Employee Engagement

David Mizne is a thought leader on workforce potential. We thought our friends in human resources, HRtech and related disciplines might appreciate this article on employee engagement, including input from DNA Behavior’s Chief Learning Accelerator, Nikki Evans, about how Business DNA might be leveraged.

Your employees offer significantly better performance and value when they’re engaged but building better employee engagement throughout your business is often easier said than done. Individual employees have different desires and priorities in the workplace and keeping everyone happy can be a challenge if you don’t know where to begin.

Luckily, there are proven ways to start monitoring your company’s employee engagement and making improvements to your current approach. Even if you already have an effective performance management system, these three strategies can help you build stronger relationships with your employees and translate into higher engagement.

Encourage Open Communication

Communication is an incredibly important element of a strong company culture, and creating open lines of communication must begin at the top. This isn’t a process that can be completed overnight, so look for manageable ways to help employees feel more comfortable being honest with their ideas, feedback, and questions so everyone in your company can feel included.

Leading by example is a great way to demonstrate the kind of environment you want to build. Start by making more personal connections with your employees and show that you’re interested in their lives beyond work performance. This can be a simple as walking around different parts of the building and striking conversation with coworkers outside of the normal work discussions.

“Remember that an important part of communicating is truly listening,” says Nikki Evans, a certified professional coach who is Chief Learning Officer for DNA Behavior International. “Make sure you are prepared to take time to truly listen if you are going to start a conversation; be invested in the conversation.”

Ask for Employee Feedback

Employees who feel comfortable being vulnerable are more inclined to provide constructive and actionable feedback. Allowing employees to bring forward their own creative ideas will show them that you are actively listening and value their contributions.

You can also collect regular feedback from your entire workforce that measures how they feel about their role at the company. This is a great chance to ask for specific, targeted feedback and changes they feel could help the business become more efficient.

“Make sure to include your responses to feedback,” DNA’s Evans says. “Not all feedback may be actionable or reasonable at present, but if employees feel like feedback never changes anything, they may stop participating. Let them know how you are evaluating, implementing or even putting their ideas on hold so that they know you are considering them carefully, rather than just ignoring them.”

Express Staff Appreciation

Employees who don’t feel like a valued part of their company can result in increased turnover and decreased performance across teams and departments. Giving appreciation fulfills a basic human need that so many companies forget to tap into. Even a simple “thank you” can be enough to remind someone that they’re more than just a cog in your company’s machine. No one wants to feel like “just a number.”

Businesses can show staff appreciation in different ways, and you can make this as creative or simplistic as you like. Giveaways, after-work events or prizes can show your employees that you truly care about them. This can also play a huge part in improving both performance and overall engagement.

Whether it’s communication, feedback, appreciation or other facets of employee engagement (and HR in general), Evans says a validated behavioral talent insight tool (think probing questionnaire) can provide an edge to organizations focused on employee engagement.

“Imagine being able to tailor aspects of engagement based on individuals and teams,” she says. “For instance, what communication method and style will be most effective with them, or how and when feedback will be most effective for them to provide or receive and, yes, what acts of appreciation will resonate.”

There’s no single way to build better employee engagement, but these three strategies are great starting points that can be used for businesses of any and all sizes. By going back to the basics, you can begin to regain trust with each employee and reevaluate your engagement strategies by using the candid feedback you receive.

David Mizne, Content Manager at 15Five interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement. 15Five is a SaaS company with a powerful and simple solution that gathers critical insights from employees in minutes each week, enabling informed management to get the visibility they need to boost engagement and drive alignment across their entire team.

When Clients Self-Sabotage Their Investments

When Clients Self-Sabotage Their Investments

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

Since the global financial crisis and recession, clients are driving the industry in ways never thought possible (or appropriate).

Investor fears, lack of confidence and market uncertainty are provoking clients to demand better and more personalized advice from advisors. In this new client-led environment, advisors are struggling to understand how to navigate clients’ emotions, inconsistent thoughts and biases, while remaining in control of the advisory process. The relationship becomes further strained when the client presents as a know-it-all, bent on self-sabotaging.

Much is written about the role of the advisor and their behavior, but less about clients who don’t seek advice, but, rather, instruct advisors, perhaps to their own peril.

If the role of a financial advisor is, and should be, to advise, then what approach can they take to manage clients who know everything and think it is they who are the experts? Likewise, what to do when clients repeat mistakes and don’t want to learn from them?

Clients with this self-sabotaging approach to their investments are often unwilling to listen, are not open to new ideas or collaboration, and believe their opinions are the only ones that matter. As an advisor, these client traits may ring true for you.

Unfortunately, all advisors will experience such clients at some point. The key is knowing how to manage it in a way that provides a win/win solution to the client’s wealth creation options and maintains a healthy advisor/client relationship. Here are a few techniques to apply and to identify and challenge the self-sabotaging behavior of clients:

  1. Listen empathetically; remember the clients’ approach could stem from a lack of confidence around money, which to many is an emotive subject.
  2. Don’t let your frustration show; this is a client, not an adversary. Acknowledge what they are saying, as this engages and keeps them connected into the conversation.
  3. Remember, you are the financial expert, so get your facts straight, but be willing to listen to their investment suggestions and demonstrate your openness by offering to research on their behalf.
  4. Don’t allow the conversation to get away from you. Stay calm and focused. Most importantly, ask questions. Investors tend to get agitated by market volatility, perhaps unaware just how normal it is. The power of targeted questions can unravel some of this self-sabotaging behavior.

These techniques are more powerful when advisors have a level of information in advance of client meetings, as they can be tailored to each client’s uniqueness. Not only can financial personality be revealed, but perhaps more importantly, a guide to individually crafted questions is available to advisors so they can manage meetings based on revealed behavior.

Increasingly, the financial industry is turning to scientifically-based data gathering to prepare advisors, in advance of client meetings. Not only does this insight identify self-sabotaging behavior and provide direction on how best to manage it – it also delivers insight into:

  • Bias that can get in the way of investment strategy.
  • How to place clients more effectively at the center of the planning process.
  • Planning risks triggered by self-sabotaging behavior.
  • Issues, often hidden below the surface, that drive imperfect decision-making.
  • Risk propensity and risk tolerance that needs to be known and managed.
  • Whether the client sees their advisor as a financial coach and wants the relationship to be collaborative or Wants to delegate their financial decision making to the advisor and simply be kept informed.

Advisors who invest in scientifically based client discovery processes, understand that self-sabotaging behavior can come in many forms and that managing it must be approached on an individual basis.

Next time we’ll talk about things advisors need to know to better identify and assist this type of client, including how client behavioral insights empower advisors. In the meantime why not try our complimentary DNA Behavior Natural Discovery here.

Tech solutions

Innovative Tech Solutions For Talent And Culture Are On The Menu

We recently brought together leaders, influencers and tech wizards from human resources and related fields for DNA Behaviors Thought Accelerators: Future HRtech interactive dinner. Think Mastermind meets think-tank meets great meal at which participants discuss, debate and parse leveraging behavioral insights at scale across a broad range of applications.

Participants who are more familiar with our work helped underscore that the HRtech future is now, available to anyone in and around HR and tech who wants to drive innovation and behavioral solutions in everything from sales and marketing, to operations, recruitment, fit-for-hire and more. Imagine being able to deploy behavioral personality insights to guide people, teams and businesses using real talent insights for real results in real-time.

Participants who are less familiar with our 18 years of work perfecting a validated, practical and scalable psychometric system asked pointed questions, made astute observations and ultimately sparked, yes, more great ways to leverage the intersection of tech, data and behavioral insights within and beyond HR.

DNA solutions in action

Reinforcements of our methodology and beliefs revealed during the dinner include the way we recruit (using a behavior tech platform); that is, starting with a proper design of the role based on specific behavioral talents and measurable KPIs (key performance indicators), doing no interviews until the candidates behavioral talents are matched to role.

Then look to resumes, which are best viewed from a futuristic perspective – focusing on predictors of future performance rather than a recitation of past accomplishments – though most diners agreed it’s tough to glean such knowledge from most resumes. The problem with the traditional methodology is that many suitable candidates are screened out based on resumes which address the past and a failure to recognize their talents at all.

But that futuristic look is increasingly crucial, particularly given that tech is changing every type of role so fast. Candidates and employers alike must prepare for roles and even industries that did not exist before. Still, by identifying natural (innate) behavioral talents through a validated discovery process, the one thing you can and should rely on is the foundation of the process.

It was noted that, ideally, job descriptions are written with behavioral characteristics in mind. This means looking beyond skills and experience to the ideal behavioral talents (strengths) your optimal candidate will have. Ideally, the business should be benchmarking each key role based on previous high performers who have succeeded in that culture and environment, or at least looking to comparable roles in other similar businesses.

In one sense the work of defining the job description role requires the data produced by the DNA Behavior Tech Platform and then also some experienced consulting input from a person who understands the exact requirements of the business who is recruiting. We encourage the many stalwart business partners we have who take our behavior tech platform (including an API) to use it for powering the building of specific role benchmarks, managing the hiring and onboarding process and then developing teams and monitoring performance.

One of the reasons these collaborations are so powerful is that they can more quickly – even exponentially – help us help businesses of all kinds accelerate human performance. To wit, businesses that build a more relationship-oriented culture with an eye on results do better than those that are focused solely on bottom-line results. (You simply cannot take people out of the equation.)

Behavioral insights power culture

There was much talk of the importance of the right organizational culture, with one participant emphasizing that culture is so important that Amazon purchased Zappos for nearly $1 billion, chiefly, to acquire its culture. Also noted: Even if you think your company does not have a culture, it does; its just not intentional and therefore likely is not serving you well.

It was agreed following the practice of openly sharing individual DNA Behavior discovery insights (reported results) was also crucial to building an intentional, sustainable culture. For instance, sharing the results of a discovery with the individual completing it and sharing their supervisors and team members profiles with them, and vice versa. Transparent sharing from the top down, bottom up and side to side across teams and the whole business, if you will, can be a powerful part of an optimized culture. The key point is that everyone has a common language to be vulnerable and be able in a more pin-pointed way to share their strengths, struggles and communication style.

We talked about how individual profiles detailing behavioral strengths and challenges (the result of a behavioral discovery tool – think probing questionnaire) are more powerful when used in onboarding and ongoing engagement in the workplace. Now that’s personalization – having someone’s behavior DNA baked into any and all HR processes. We all know that once a person is hired the ongoing relationship with their boss is critical to retention.

Best, this behavior tech is scalable now, in part due to agile API but also because each individual discovery takes approximately 10 to 12 minutes to complete. Thats a minimal individual commitment for results that pay dividends across time, platforms and functions.

Aprs dner

You know how great interactions, idea sharing and brainstorming continue to percolate after, in this case, a dinner? Well, an email two mornings after our Future HRtech dinner came from a participant who was previously not so familiar with our DNA solutions. He’s a serial entrepreneur who knows the value of powerful tech and data solutions across myriad industries.

Reflecting on a solution and corresponding challenge mentioned at the dinner, he had had an idea for a multifaceted app that would both leverage DNA Behavior discovery results and help users deploy them in practical ways, even enabling users to launch new products and services. (Yes, we’ve already put that idea into development.)

It’s always gratifying getting an appreciative, spirited thank-you note after a great dinner. You know what’s better? Enthusiastic participants who continue germinating robust ideas for real-world solutions based on our behavior tech platform.

Make your reservation

In addition to this Future Tech dinner focused on human resources, we previously had one focused on the financial services space. We plan other Future Tech and HRtech dinners and I am excited about what great ideas, insights and collaborations may emerge.

If you’re interested in being part of one of these dynamic evenings, please just drop me a line: inquiries@dnabehavior.com. Your big idea may be the next best thing on the menu.

And if you would like to whet your appetite, take your complimentary BDNA Discovery here; you’ll receive an infographic report were happy to review with you.

Remote Working

Invest In and Trust Your Workforce

This article first appeared on HR Management App.

Remote work is really about trust. Are they doing their job? Are they slacking off?
Sometimes leaders don’t support remote working because they feel the need to be in control.

As the CEO of a global company I have key executives working remotely. The executive team meet regularly via voice and video chat apps. The team leaders meet daily for 10 minutes with an executive.

I am in regular contact with my managing director and at least once a week with the full executive team. If time zones get in the way of face-to-face meetings, we record them, and the links await the team member when they are back at their desk.

Technology is the key enabler of remote working. Fast wi-fi connections, project management software and other tech tools help us communicate and collaborate instantaneously.

So, how do we make this work?

Well, it helps that we are in the business of accelerating human performance. We deliver real-time management solutions through validated behavioral insights to connect, customize and power human performance.

So, I hire the right people. But you don’t have to be in my industry to get remote work right.

And not everyone has the behavior to be comfortable working remotely. They want and need the interaction of working in an office with a team around them. Wherever I can, we accommodate this.

Others are comfortable with and excel in the remote experience. They are able to function alone but also want to know they can interact with colleagues as and when they need to.

I ensure communication is robust. Each staff member has access to connect with their colleagues as they wish. Any instructions or guidance is imparted using a variety of styles, words, pictures, videos – whatever is needed to get messages across. People think and give and receive information differently.

All staff are hired not just for their talents and credentials, but also for the “fit” to the benchmarked role they will fill. They are also profiled using a validated system to ensure their behaviors meet our cultural and behavioral standards. The outcomes also show those whose inherent behavior is more suited to remote working.

Ask them to “talk back”

All executives and team leaders are required to take part in our 360-degree performance review. Regardless of where they sit in the world or where their staff are, we continuously check to make sure everyone feels valued and supported.

The greatest gift I can give to my team is to trust them. In return my employees are happier and loyal. Stress levels are low, and they work hard and have the space to play hard and keep their life in balance.

I was skeptical in the beginning but after eighteen years of remote working in some form or other, I’m persuaded every leader should consider using this form of working with their teams.

Invest in a discovery process that optimizes your people and procedures, including shorter term check-ins and long-view feedback loops. You’ll be investing in your team members and they, in turn, will be more invested in you.

Corporate Culture, It Starts at the Top DNA Behavior

Corporate Culture, It Starts at the Top

Often in business, the way forward is not or but and. That is, not abandoning one cornerstone for another; rather, adding other building blocks as necessary. It’s the cumulative approach that can streamline savvy organizations who are able to move beyond the fear of adding additional elements or layers.

We’ve been seeing this trend in a way that is particularly connected to our work, at the intersection of data and behavior. But let’s look back a moment before looking forward.

Corporate Culture Five Years in the Making:

For the past five-plus years there has been a strong focus on corporate culture, including the installation of a Chief Corporate Culture Officer or some other executive-level champion of thoughtful, strategic culture initiatives. To a great degree, they focused on goals, alignment, and communication, with tentacles reaching into every corner of an organization. That is great and we should not throw out our emphasis on the power of a curated corporate culture.

Still, the last few years also have seen the amount of data organizations wield grow exponentially. That too is good and exciting, but only if they can fully leverage that data while at the same time deftly coordinating all the many aspects that affect and are affected by data or otherwise have to be part of the collaborative, comprehensive mix.

Chief of Corporate Culture:

So, let’s get back to that trend I hinted at above. At the intersection of culture, people, customer experience, big data, AI, machine learning and all of the other elements a robust organization must exist. Leaders are beginning to see the next overlay many will need to connect all of these dots. That is a Behavioral Science Officer or behavioral science team’s role. We know people approach and understand things differently and communicate in myriad ways. That’s what is driving these leaders to envision some sort of coordinated effort that leverages behavioral data across disparate areas of their business.

This might address anything from testing out new products, experimenting with words and customer retention to hiring, governance, regulation and accountability. In short, not only harvesting people data, but also ensuring it is valid and relevant and maximally redeployed to greatest effect.

A devil’s advocate might say of course this sounds like a good idea to someone who offers a validated behavioral discovery tech platform. But truth is, the need for a top-down, across-all embrace of behavioral science is bigger than just that tech platform, which could be one very effective part of such a rollout, but, still, only one part of it.

At Business DNA we help firms large and small their Corporate Culture. Register to learn more.

Behaviors Role in Corporate Culture:

The amount of data, including all sorts of behavioral data (whether harvested or not), generated and held by organizations will continue to grow. So will the need to improve everything from products to profits and accountability by leveraging the massive amounts of information. By managing behavior.

I would venture to say that even the early adopters of a behavior tech platform like ours would realize the most success by taking a big-picture, infrastructure approach to behavior sciences. Ultimately, the key is to activate all of the insight data you have (access to) so you can know, engage and grow employees and clients, anticipating what they want and need – and delivering it – maybe even before they know what they want.

All business is about people, and because business is a people science, we must understand human nature to truly excel at and understand business. Human nature is stable and needs to be understood; doing so can and will affect your bottom line. Using a behavioral science approach will identify the business goals and challenges that can be reached and resolved through the scalable and practical application of what I like to refer to as understanding people before numbers.

What areas of your organization would benefit from the layering in of behavioral science? And can you foresee a Chief of Corporate Culture or behavioral sciences team member in your organizations future?

I’m interested in your take on this, so talk back: Hmassie@dnabehavior.com. I’ll, of course, be watching this trend and any others that touch behavior, money, and tech. I promise to report back.

Can You Spot The Client?

Can You Spot The Molotov Cocktail Client?

Historically, we have seen advisors selecting their ideal clients based on easily observed quantitative and qualitative factors. These often include (i) meeting a minimum of assets under management, (ii), shared values, (iii) preparedness to delegate, and (iv) being able to meet a specialist service need (estate planning, family business, business exit, etc.).

However, based on our work using Financial DNA over nearly 20 years, we have affirmed that there are deeper issues that need to be identified before taking on a new client – or retaining them once you see the pattern.

DNA Behavior International recently polled our advisor user base on their “worst client”. We got resounding feedback that most advisors worst client was “an engineer”. In my more than 30 years of serving clients, working with engineers was a challenge for me interpersonally because many of them constantly wanted to benchmark and finetune the portfolio. So, clients who are not relationally compatible with the advisor and therefore are hard to communicate with would not be suitable.

But in my experience, engineers aren’t the worst clients. The worst clients were hiding in plain sight during client onboarding but slowly required much more time and risk to manage throughout their financial journey because they are financially destructive.

In our 18 years of client discovery experience, we have found a trend of financially destructive clients. The most destructive clients tend to be the ones that require the most behavioral management and are not associated with a particular occupation. For instance, the couple that brings in $300k + per year and spends it all, the mother that cannot say “no” and the couple that constantly switches plans or presents with ideas for deals from dinner parties.

So, how can you identify these Molotov Cocktail Clients and avoid them? Look for these Molotov Cocktail Client traits:

  1. Have low Financial Behavior Compatibility because they are more prone to making destructive financial decisions that get in the way of wealth accumulation, and
  2. Are a low Relational Style because they are interpersonally harder to manage; thus, there is a greater chance trust will be lost and advisory risk will increase.

Discovering the Clients Financial Personality

The next evolution in discovering whether a client is ideal and how to behaviorally manage them is to get more insight into their decision-making and relationship behavior. Some clients will do a “behavioral flip” when who they naturally are at the core (Financial DNA Natural Behavior style) intensifies under pressure and in emotional situations – often caused by market and life events.

They go from seeming to be a congenial and desirable client to being too hot to handle. Is your firm prepared to manage clients who are not behaviorally ideal, even if they simply meet the four main criteria specified above?

We have adopted the belief that it is the client’s complete financial personality (their “Financial DNA”) which is a significant driver of wealth creation. Understanding a client’s risk profile is only one dimension that needs to be understood.

In particular, we believe that having a high ratio of spending to disposable income is the biggest destroyer of wealth. If a client spends all of their income then, unless there is a windfall event (bonus, inheritance, business sale), there is nothing left to invest. Also, of the clients who are spenders, many will invariably have high debt which puts their wealth creation further at risk.

Clearly, being a high risk taker can jeopardize wealth creation if poor decisions are made. Nevertheless, in order to create wealth, risks do need to be taken. So, in terms of a client’s Financial Behavior Capability, having a high risk tolerance is important. Clients also need to have a higher level of goal drive to build wealth. They need to be motivated to work harder and push themselves over a long period of time.

Financial Behavior Capability Research

DNA Behavior conducted a recent research study across 65,000 randomly selected participants who had completed the Financial DNA Discovery Process to determine which clients would be ideal from a behavioral management perspective. We identified the following statistics about a person’s Financial Behavior Capability when you combine the propensities for saving (or spending), goal drive and risk-taking:

 

Financial Behavior Capability Saving or Spending propensity Goals and/or Risk Population %
Very High High Saving And high goal motivation and high risk taking 11%
High High Saving And high goal motivation only 17%
High High Saving And high risk taking only 15%
Moderate Moderate Saving Moderate risk taking and goal motivation 14%
Low High Spending And low risk taking only 15%
Low High Spending And low goal motivation only 17%
Very Low High Spending And low goal motivation and low risk taking 11%

 

Relationship Style

 

Interestingly what we found is that only 3% of clients would be ideal from a behavioral management perspective when you combine a high Financial Behavior Capability and have a relationship style. All of the remaining 97% could be Molotov Cocktail clients who are prone to making financial decisions which would counteract accumulating wealth for meeting their goals and/or would be difficult (or not enjoyable) to inter-personally manage.

 

The behaviorally ideal clients (3% of the population) exhibit the following characteristics:

 

  1. High Financial Behavior Capability based on the 11% of the population having the propensity to: (i) save money (low spender), (ii) emotionally manage losses (high risk tolerance) and (iii) build wealth (high goal motivation).
  2. High Relational Style based on the 11% of the population with high financial capability as defined above, only 27% of that population (roughly 3% of total population) will have a desire to congenially work with the advisor to build a long-term relationship and not simply for performance management. Put another way, more than two thirds of the population with a high Financial Behavior Capability will be more relationally difficult to work with because of their strong results focus and demanding nature.

Will you be the advisor – or organization that employs many advisors – that takes on any client and advises them without any insight into their financial personality? Or will you leverage data to maximize advisor-client fit, tailor advice and client communication, and ensure retention, satisfaction and success on both sides of the advisory relationship?