A Tsunami of Change Lands at AECBy Ingrid Protacio on August 14, 2012 in How To...
AEC has been in business for a long time, and we weren’t always the “sexiest” company.
As the largest privately-owned Canadian company focusing on realty tax recovery and minimization, there was an established culture in place since our founding in 1973. We were a long-standing company that has been in business in an equally traditional industry. We are not that funky young start-up company; there was no foosball in our lunch room.
In 2009, a change in management brought in a desire for a new way of doing things to keep up with the times.
A Move Away From Top-Down Hierarchy
This is not unique to AEC. Many companies that had to mature through the past 40 years have seen a noted shift from top-down, autocratic cultures to ones where employee engagement is a requirement.
AEC’s new management has mandated a strengths-based environment as the emphasis. Every employee is asked to do a Kolbe™ and StrengthsFinder2.0™ test that supports an understanding of his / her Unique Ability™ and the connection to their contribution to AEC.
But now that we have this inventory of strengths, so what? What is the value in acknowledging the strengths of individuals, if it cannot be exploited in a team where the perfect blend of individual talents offer a service in the most efficient, passionate and lucrative way?
Embracing Openness and Collaboration
This type of environment needs a culture that is open, transparent and collaborative. The new management team has endeavoured to leverage technology to “open up” AEC. Numerous system changes were undertaken from Sales to Data Management to Billing. Throughout each implementation, collaboration has been a critical result desired.
The question is, how do you instill the confidence in employees to trust a company that their engagement is now not only asked, but is deemed as crucial to the progress and quantified growth we are targeting?
The Decision to Implement Salesforce Rypple
In the search for a new performance management system, the traditional “performance review systems” were considered. In what can be called serendipity, Bob Langlois, Managing Director of Operations and one of the key drivers for cultural change, attended a seminar and was introduced to the concept of social performance management.
Due diligence insisted that we do our homework and we did our research on Rypple along with two other competitive products. Based on criteria deemed important by HR for performance management and by the Operations team for employee engagement, Rypple was selected.
It was a rocky start, made a bit trickier because we didn’t even go through a trial period. We just jumped straight into the Rypple pool – Phenomenal plan and all. Employees that were used to working individually under a central command were now being pushed into a virtual “social” workplace. The Rypple implementation team assured us along the way that the adoption of Rypple was in line with what they expected based on benchmarks. Training, open sessions and 1:1 instruction was delivered for employees, managers and executives.
As predicted, the early adopters were those already familiar to personal social platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The ability to create connections, thank employees, collaborate on projects and discuss progress on Rypple came naturally to these people.
Cultivating a Feedback Culture
The example set by early adopters (and to some extent, new hires who were not exposed to the previous culture and thus embraced all that is new to them) led the path for other employees to come online to Rypple and create badges, high five each other, ask for updates, etc. The message was simple. Rypple is not rocket science, and is there to build bridges, especially in a company with employees scattered coast-to-coast.
Our focus with Rypple is promoting thee key behaviours:
- Continuous feedback (giving and receiving positive and constructive)
- Alignment around social goals (for corporate objectives requiring cross-functional collaborators)
- Performance summaries (formalizing a social performance review system)
A Tsunami of Change
Feedback was the easiest win. AEC employees quickly found a way to make gratitude towards their colleagues not simply a private matter, forgotten during reviews. Now they were able to utilize the information from their Feedback and Objectives in their reviews (Loops).
While the employees have gone through two quarters of Loops successfully, we have hit a bottleneck in the executive and senior manager level. It seems that the employees found the value in doing their Loops correctly, but the senior management team has been unable to leverage this efficiency to deliver completed loops on time and consistently. With this acknowledged issue, our HR lead has been focusing on Loops completion and emphasizes this at every management and executive meeting.
With this challenge still ahead of us, it is at this point in the story where it is imperative to look back to the beginning. AEC was a company that used to be a very top-down-driven organization. Now, with the aid of Rypple (and along with other employee engagement initiatives), it was the employees that have embraced collaboration. It is the employees fuelling the use of the system. The onus is now on management to catch up and continue the cultural momentum that the employees have created through the successful and consistent completion of Loops. Perhaps this is why it is called “Loops”; once we complete a truly successful cycle, then we know the Rypple revolution is complete and here to stay.
It is now evident why the name Rypple is apt. Like a tsunami of change, it starts at the bottom (of the ocean) and continues to the top as a wave of change. At AEC, we hope this groundswell is a positive one. When we have engaged employees maximizing the use of their Unique Abilities™ as a collaborative team, we won’t just be obliterating every obstacle in the way to progress, we’re going to have fun along the way.
This post was submitted by AEC, a Salesforce Rypple customer.