The idea of managers acting as a catalyst to better engagement within their teams is not new. Research typically suggests that managers are a major factor, if not the key factor in determining engagement outcomes. That said, manager's are often caught between a rock and a hard place (see slide 14 of this Nesta sponsored research) in the sense that managing people is very different to managing processes and technology such as computers, machines, devices etc. What works for one doesn't work for the other and as processes and technology are typically easier to measure, manage and understand than people, is it any surprise that managing people in an equitable and engaging fashion is so hard?
- Providing managers with a new concept about how to manage their people, one that offers reliable and consistent predictions, just as is the case with processes and technology, but that also aligns this with the relational and communication goals of managers and team members.
- The ability to turn this concept into a series of simple and practical processes and decisions. Recruitment and team creation are formal examples, whilst more informal or barely repeatable processes include task assignment, determining paths of communication or supervision. Interestingly, 64% of world GDP comes from barely repeatable processes, so their significance is not to be understated.
- Along with a new idea and new processes, this hack needs to account for the context and developmental needs of individual team members. Sometimes called informal or just-in-time learning, this makes it easy for managers to coach their team member's in a personalised and bespoke fashion, the grease to the engine's wheel, if you will.
- By combining the 3 factors above, the Visual Team Builder software offers new way to enhance decision making, business processes, individual team member development and overall team management.
The Hack in Practice
The Visual Team Builder is a software tool designed to manage all elements of 4G, specifically:
- The use of personalised developmental and coaching recommendations (on screen and via reports) for individuals and teams.
- The prediction and analysis of relationships and group dynamics between employees and candidates.
- The modelling and prediction of teams whether recruiting, improving team performance or enhancing business processes.
- The modelling of different 'what-if' scenarios prior to implementation in order to evaluate potential increases in performance and ROI.
Diagram 1 links to a 3 minute demo of the Visual Team Builder. This introduces some of the key ideas behind the Visual Team Builder and illustrates several examples of it's use.
Further to the video demo, Diagram 2 shows an example of some of the on-screen, personalised coaching recommendations that are avaliable. In this case, practical tips on the Social Relationship between Fraser Corking and Rehan Turner.
The use of the Visual Team Builder (VTB) by managers, team members, internal coaches and subject matter experts has several benefits when it comes to raising engagement:
- The VTB aligns a number of business processes (team creation, recruitment, decision making, work flow etc.) with a personalised approach to the coaching and development of individual team members.
By combining business processes with coaching in a single tool, the interests of both managers and team members are met simultaneously. The greatest improvements occur around communications, work flow, trust, relationships and feedback.
- By extension, the use of the VTB has the potential to increase trust and transparency within a team. This increase is magnified if team members themselves are also able to access the software.
- The VTB and the predictive, systematic nature of 4G helps minimise the tension between the management of systems and processes, (typically one of the biggest roles played by managers) and the very different approach needed to managing people.
- The VTB gets to the heart of the manager/team member relationship and given that this is arguably the biggest factor in determining engagement, the VTB has the potential to create a significant rise in engagement levels.