By Martin Dippenaar
In a world where most of our decision making is based on data insights, business leaders are missing out by not applying the science to team management. Big data analytics software with configurable algorithms allows managers and team leaders to analyse vast amounts of data, providing valuable insights into potential issues within teams – often up to five times faster. This allows for prompt intervention to ensure quality, productivity, and profitability are maintained.
A tougher economy and the rising cost of living is taking an inevitable toll on all of us. Distracted and stressed management and workers means that while flare ups are more frequent, it takes even longer for managers to identify problems within their teams. This unchecked conflict impacts the entire team and, if not addressed, will lead to a toxic environment that impacts performance and quality and could ultimately cost companies clients, reputation, and in extreme instances, the business itself.
Traditional performance reviews don’t always uncover the issues
Many companies still work solely on an individual performance model, relying on formal reviews conducted quarterly.
A business could spend up to a week every three months conducting performance reviews. This equates to a month of the year away from actual delivery. What’s more, the reviews don’t allow proper objectivity and people simply don’t remember what happened one or two months ago. The result is that simmering issues are never properly unearthed and go unaddressed.
One of the major impacts of unidentified conflicts lies in what he describes as the contagion effect.
The impact of a conflict never remains confined to the two people involved, but spills over, impacting the entire team and upsetting the working dynamic. Years of analysis of data from our own and other workplaces has shown that in an average workplace it takes between six to eight weeks before problems are identified by management. Even with rapid resolution the damage done has a lasting impact and it can take at least another three to four weeks before team performance returns to normal. That is three months of suboptimal working conditions that will have a profound effect on quality and output.
This is in stark contrast to when a new data-driven approach developed by TeamFirst is taken.
This cloud-based solution utilises customised algorithms, which have been tested and refined over six years, along with big data analytics to analyse high-frequency, anonymous peer reviews and anonymous data from teams. The volunteered information about their experiences, relationships and outputs is then analysed by the software, uncovering potential conflict areas before they can impact on team performance.
When a problem is detected by the software, usually in just a week or two, quick interventions can happen while the issue is still manageable and hasn’t had time to escalate into something more problematic. More particularly, the conflict doesn’t have time to poison the rest of the team and with a swift resolution there is barely any impact felt.
Emphasis on company values offers additional benefits
Another key benefit of adopting a data-driven approach is that the parameters of the software can be configured around each company’s culture and values.
Company values don’t just help teams deliver according to an agreed quality standard, but can help develop an increased self-awareness in how teams treat one another. By consistently rating each other based on these values, the company culture is placed at the heart of operations and becomes the basis on which decisions are made. Clear values that are seen in action everyday have a big impact on team performance as well as individual employee satisfaction, both of which will inevitably impact profitability.
Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace report found that today’s workers are experiencing worryingly high rates of disengagement and dissatisfaction, with 60% of those surveyed admitting they were emotionally detached and 19% saying they were miserable. And the impact of that disengagement is having a very real impact on productivity.
The report also highlighted that employees who are actively disengaged cost the global economy $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, or roughly 11% of global GDP. Meanwhile, the effects of happy, engaged workers resulted in their companies reporting a 23% higher profit.
Relying on a machine to help identify something as deeply human as conflict may seem counterintuitive. But the evidence shows us that our software identifies conflict up to five times faster than humans, and the reality is that when humans eventually do pick up on the problem, it may have already caused irreparable damage. As in so many cases in business today, taking a data-driven approach is best. Because while human interaction will never go away, finding ways to augment our shortcomings can significantly improve our workplace experience.
Martin Dippenaar is the CEO of software development house, Global Kinetic.
** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL.