Leaders of today need to focus on engagement

Real-time Management” is a new perspective on how companies can engage employees and customers to give critical feedback in real time in order to increase the engagement.

Most leaders I know operate using ‘Management by Objectives’ (MBO), setting smart goals for their managers and employees as a means of guiding the business. Many are even developing an organisational culture in which employees are encouraged to set their own goals.

However, MBO doesn’t quite have the effect that it used to have, especially among our newer, younger colleagues. I don’t think this is due to the wrong measures being set or the wrong people being measured. It is more about engaging employees and customers to motivate them to develop their relationship with the company. They will then be likely to keep giving feedback on a regular and frequent basis so that leaders can monitor the state of their business in real time. The current problem is encapsulated by the irritation we feel when our telephone operator or car workshop wants to measure our satisfaction after every visit or contact when we only have a transactional relationship with them. Personally, I rarely press the smiley buttons in stores or airports any more so how useful can the data be if many people ignore them?

The issue for leaders, therefore, is that we need a new perspective to engage employees and customers to give critical feedback in real time if we are to deliver the business performance needed.

The time is right for this change to happen. The development of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (Industry 4.0) means that the technology to communicate with individual employees and customers, and to manage the constant flow of data is now possible. New technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning enable not only direct feedback from the individual to the organisation but also peer-to-peer feedback in real time.

But technology is only the enabler to doing things differently; we also need to rethink our leadership. How many leaders today are ready to monitor customer and employee feedback on a daily, or near to daily, basis? Most organisations I visit only review results on a monthly basis. Furthermore, these results tend to be the company’s financial and transactional performance such as the orders received, revenue, operational profit, absence due to sickness, employee turnover and so on. Customer complaints may be monitored every month but customer and employee satisfaction every year or two.

Measuring relationships in real time is a new concept. It requires a shift in mindset among leaders and changes to our systems. However, our employees are ready because they live on social media in real time. They get feedback from their Facebook friends five minutes after posting their exam results or where they are on holiday. More pertinently, work colleagues often share their feelings about the company and how things are going at work on unofficial Facebook groups that are not facilitated by the company. Not only are your employees ready, they are already participating.

At People 4.0 we encourage and support leaders in their efforts to move to ‘real time management’ through better employee and customer engagement. We have helped companies such as Estee Lauder, Alcon, H+H, Noa Noa and others to kick start their engagement programmes through the use of enabling technology, on-boarding and relationship development, management of data and real time performance management. The impact is clear; the employees and customers are happy to participate and the results keep getting better.