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Activating and sustaining performance that delivers on organizational purpose can be one of the biggest challenges in this new world of work. While great work is being / has been done at a corporate level to define organizational purpose and values, companies are often challenged in realizing value out of these sometimes seemingly esoteric concepts.

In a recent workshop with some of Toronto’s Chief Human Resource Officers and HR technology ventures, a few of the challenges in enabling the worker ecosystem in service of organizational purpose were articulated. These boiled down to a disconnect between a company’s stated purpose and values and its 1) leadership behaviours and culture, 2) performance discussions, 3) rewards and recognition and 4) worker experience. Otherwise said, if workers are not coached, recognized and rewarded for performance and behaviours that are tied to the company’s purpose, they cannot possibly deliver results most effectively and efficiently.

In decades past, organizations relied on annual employee engagement surveys and sporadic training to solve this problem. In this new world of work, technology is a critical enabler. Notwithstanding the importance of fundamental leadership (technology will never take away the need for courageous leaders), a variety of workplace technology solutions can augment this capability, helping to amplify and reinforce culturally-aligned behaviours by:

1) Accelerating vs. Managing performance

Instead of using technology simply as a tool to store performance rating data and manage through a process, solutions like SpriggHR can help accelerate performance of individuals and teams, through integration into everyday workflow. Once clarity of direction has been established through the use of Sprigg's goal alignment tools, the platform will nudge leaders and workers to evaluate their own and their team's performance on an ongoing basis. This ensures regular updates that continually manage progress toward organizational priorities. The system can also prompt real-time feedback calls and provide meaningful tips with culture-enforcing reminders throughout the users' day.

2) Listening for signals in real-time

According to Rob Catalano, Chief Engagement Officer of WorkTango, an HR Software and Advisory company that helps give employees a voice and leaders actionable insights, employees don’t have survey fatigue, they have “lack of action” fatigue. Through tools like WorkTango, employee voice can be measured and issues addressed in real-time across the whole employee life cycle, with nudges provided to leaders based on collected feedback, to help them take action to better align with company purpose and values.

3) Democratizing everyday delights

Solutions such as Nudge Rewards, specializing in front-line mobile communication, can be used to scale and democratize what was once only doable manually and individually. Instead of relying on leadership to recognize workers individually, and often annually through a one-time bonus, the platform is used both as a communication vehicle among front-line workers so that they can rapidly address issues and collaborate and also as a peer-to-peer recognition platform, providing everyday delights in real-time.

An example that illustrates how synchronizing all three of the above can accelerate performance and drive toward organizational purpose: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) uses a collaboration platform to bring their common purpose, which is “Creating Extraordinary moments for our fans and each other”, to life: At a recent Maple Leafs game, a young fan held up a poster, stating that it was his birthday and his first game, with a handwritten checklist of ”wish list” items. In moments, through the use of their collaboration tool, built into workers’ workflow (i.e. mobile enabled for all workers) an MLSE team member posted a picture of the fan with his wish list and the MLSE team members across multiple departments rallied to deliver on each wish list item (from a visit from a Mascot to a game puck to birthday cake delivered in seat by the in-house chef). This not only delighted the customer, but in turn also delighted all of the workers involved in solving the problem, which directly delivered on the company’s purpose. Team members were able to collaborate in real time, motivating one another through dopamine-generating “likes”, which accelerated performance.

The key is that one size does not fit all – it is critical to choose solutions that best address the problems that have the most impact on your culture. And keep in mind that adoption will be significantly impacted without careful consideration of worker experience (e.g., mobile enablement, integration into workflow, single sign on, etc.) and a robust and thoughtful change management strategy.

Naomi Titleman Colla is founder of Collaborativity Inc., a Toronto-based consultancy focused on driving progressive talent strategy in this new world of work.

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