Every company talks about the importance of the customer experience, but what about the employee experience?

In this episode, Lance Gibbs, author of Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys and founder of BP3 Global, shares what he learned after transforming the employee experience at his own company.

Whether you’re the head of a global conglomerate or you manage one employee, you don’t want to miss Lance’s advice for making your employees your greatest asset.

Listen in to Lance Gibbs to learn: 

  • How a simple conversation can completely transform the employee experience at any company
  • What you can learn about the future of business from Alibaba and Airbnb
  • Why the digital era is set to be one of decentralization and what that means for traditional business models

Get Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys on Amazon.

Learn more at BP-3.com.

How did you start transforming the employee experience at BP3?

First, we got a handful of folks together from around the company—no more than what two large pizzas could feed—and we asked them the two biggest questions, which are, “Who are we?” and “What do we value as an organization?”

I’m not talking about the mission and value statements you see posted in the cafeterias, or on the walls, or in people’s cubes, that’s not what we were after.

What we wanted them to do is have a conversation about what they value, about the “why” of what they do. Not the “how” or the “what,” but why they do what they do.

Three employees having a conversation around a table.

It’s amazing what that will start to unlock. You get people starting to think more broadly about the bigger picture.

After that, it was just about having a conversation around what the company means and what each of our employees means to one another, and that’s very healthy and it’s very effectual.

If you think about it, that exact process is how companies are launched, so it was a bit like hitting reset.

Can you give us an example of how this approach to the employee experience has helped your business?

We have a client we work with that’s in the business of site activations. Think of it as a huge drug trial costing between five to seven billion dollars and taking 10 years to complete; each activation is a major job.

Our task was to help the client figure out how to shrink those 10 years down; to speed up the process.

One of the problems they were facing was to do with data aggregation, but they had always seen their data in one particular way. They had been using the same systems and the same processes for a very long time. So when our sales guys got them on the phone and they asked us, “Can you do data aggregation our way?” Our sales guys said what sales guys do: “Yes.”

That was the end of the conversation.

Then our folks came in and said, “Wait, what if we did the data aggregation this way? What if we pulled it from there instead of here? Wouldn’t that save us tons of time, tons of money?”

The customer didn’t know.

So we dug deeper.

Our teams put together this proposal and sent it back to the client, they flipped out, they were in love.

Their response?

“That’s a hell of a lot better than the way we were thinking about doing it.”

I know this sounds a little esoteric, but it was a big change.

And if we hadn’t engaged folks from across our own teams into a dialogue and brought them into this conversation, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere. We would have missed that major opportunity.

Getting people to talk to each other was the key to us winning that contract, and it all started by asking those two simple but profound questions I talked about earlier.

What do you hope to achieve with your book?

Certainly, it would be great if the book is able to bring in leads for my company, BP3, but let me be honest, I really just want to get the message out to other organizations that there’s a better way to manage employees.

If companies can get serious about the employee experience and start engaging with employees in more creative ways compared to in traditional organizational design, then things will really start to change for everyone.

I actually sent a few early manuscripts to friends from a diverse set of industries, and I’ve had quite a few come back to me and say, “You know what? This really made me stop to think about my own organization. It made me really think about what I am doing and what I’m not doing.”

And that’s a great feeling.

At the end of the day, this isn’t rocket science, we’re not putting people on the moon, we’re not splitting atoms with a butter knife, this is simple stuff. But it’s practical, and it’s something that any organization in any industry can pick up and implement.

If Lance Gibbs were to write a follow up to Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, what would it be?

There is one area that I’m really interested in right now, and that’s quantitative psychology. I know that the IT geeks out there would love this stuff, but I think others could learn a lot from it as well.

For example, it’s common practice for companies to undertake an annual survey of their employees, say on December 1st, but all that really is is a snap shot of how someone felt on December 1st when they filled out their survey. This kind of data isn’t really all that useful.

In order to gain better insights on employees, companies need much higher fidelity data. Things like what actions and activities do employees undertake? When do they undertake them,? And how is the result of that action impacted by how the employee was feeling when they undertook it?

But here’s the hard part, the survey cannot be intrusive.

So what I’ve been interested in is using some very basic artificial intelligence to gain some additional insights on employees. And I’ve thought about writing a book about using those techniques and the technology around doing that because what I see in the future are companies consisting of 250,000 people decentralized all around the world, instead of say, 10,000 people located in a central location.

In the future, it’s going to be a handful of key folks at the top and then a complete ecosystem around them of people that deliver the services, products, systems, applications that they need.

People will have their own individual brand.

In fact, extreme individualism is already here, and that’s only going to increase.

Companies are going to need to get much better at engaging “employees,” or communities of folks that aren’t necessarily under their four walls or under their domain as a company. And that’s why having data on how employees behave is important.

So that might be the follow-up; if it’s not that, it’s going to be a fiction book.

What companies today are well-positioned for a decentralized workforce? 

Take a look at Alibaba. It’s the largest retailer in the world, yet they don’t actually make anything.

You can look at Airbnb, the largest hotel chain in the world, yet they actually don’t own any real estate.

Both of these companies have huge communities of engaged people.

You can also look at some of the digital disruptors or B2B companies who doing less and less in-house and bringing in external specialists when they need them.

The truth is that companies like Macy’s, Disney, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, or any Fortune 1000 or Global 2000 company, can’t hire people with the talent and skills that they need in order to compete in our highly interconnected world.

We live in a society that’s becoming more and more decentralized, with higher expectations of customer experience, and that’s a very difficult place for a traditional Fortune 1000 or Global 2000 company to be.

Companies will need to rely on communities to fill the gaps that are already out there today; there is not a single large company around now that is not talking about human capital acquisition and human capital skills growth as being one of their top three or four priorities.

So the question is, how do you engage? How do you leverage these digital ecosystems or communities that are growing up, and what do they mean for your organization?

What’s the #1 takeaway from your book?

There are a lot of books out there on digital strategy, digital innovation, digital transformation, customer experience, but there’s really no one talking about the employee experience.

Two employees looking at a computer monitor.

It’s a blind spot that largely been ignored by everyone.

But it’s really a ticking time-bomb, a liability. If companies don’t start paying attention to the employee experience, and to the larger community experience, then they won’t survive the changing ecosystem.

Why did you choose to write your book using the Book in A Box method?

I asked Book in A Box to help a friend of mine write a book. He’s at the last stage of terminal cancer after being diagnosed 18 months ago, and since then he’s been writing blog posts every week about his journey with cancer and how that’s affected his life.

Collating all these posts together and getting them published is important to him, it’s something that he feels passionate and strongly about. So going through the Book in A Box method and answering questions like, “What’s it’s like to have terminal cancer?” “How has it changed you, your family, your life?” “How do you cope, what do you do?” and uncovering all the other stories and connections that come from this process has been amazing.

This book is going to be a huge part of his legacy and it was all possible with the help of Book in A Box.

So because of that, the affection I have for Book in A Box is unparalleled, it’s greater than with any other company that I have ever done business with, bar none.

That’s the main reason I chose to work with Book in A Box to publish my book.

Of course that was before I even knew what it was like to work with the company.

The approach that Book in A Box takes to help anyone take an idea and get it out of his or her head and onto paper is unparalleled. Your average Joe who has lived some remarkable experiences in his or her life and who now has an opportunity to get those experiences out of their head and into the world, well, that’s extremely gratifying.

Book in A box is making, what has historically been an inaccessible process, accessible and they’re doing it in the most professional way with expertise and skills and experience. And nobody else is doing that right now.

Get Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys on Amazon.

Learn more at BP-3.com.

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