How BizOps and an Employee Engagement Strategy Can Fuel Transformation

    Does a strong employee engagement strategy help fuel BizOps success? Or does BizOps help increase employee engagement? It is like the age-old question of what came first—the chicken or the egg?

    Many organizations are trying to figure out how to execute on their BizOps transformation. (See our “What is BizOps?” page to learn more about BizOps.) Like many transformational initiatives, BizOps starts with a mission statement, the establishment of a cross-functional team, a communications plan to get employees on board, and so on. However, in spite of all the promise of BizOps, are these efforts doomed to fail?

    One McKinsey report indicates 70 percent of transformations fail, and 70 percent of those failures are due to culture-related issues.1 Considering that, according to a Gallup survey, less than half (40%) of employees are actually engaged, the prospects for BizOps or any other transformational initiative may appear doomed. (For more information on this topic, be sure to read Kieran Taylor’s recent blog, Boosting Employee Engagement.)

    Further, if employees are disengaged, it may be that initiatives that have been tried and failed in the past will only exacerbate matters. When employees have seen phrases like “transformation” and “culture change” come and go, they may get more disengaged the next time those topics are raised.

    No doubt, having an engaged workforce will expedite an organization’s BizOps transformation. However, if employees are not engaged, that doesn’t mean all is lost. Before we examine how BizOps and employee engagement strategy are intertwined, let’s take a closer look at employee engagement.

    What is employee engagement?

    Miriam Webster online defines engagement as “emotional involvement or commitment.” Employee engagement is about having employees who are emotionally attached to the organization’s purpose, and who are willing to go the extra mile to help the organization advance. But what makes employees engaged? Here are a few factors that contribute positively to employee engagement:

    • Employees are valued by their supervisor, colleagues, and/or organization.
    • Employees are set up for success, meaning they have the tools, skills, and resources to do their job to the best of their ability.
    • Employees feel a connection between their day-to-day work and the mission of the organization, and they understand how what they do adds value.
    • Employees have opportunities to learn and grow.

    In my early years as a manager, I was advised to help determine where the employee’s skills and passions intersected with business needs. It was by operating within this intersection that an employee would be most engaged, most satisfied, and bring the most value to the business.

    BizOps and Employee Engagement

    So, to revisit my earlier question, which comes first, BizOps or employee engagement strategy? The short answer is it depends.

    At the start of any new initiative, leaders tend to devote a lot of thought and attention to the future state, the desired destination of the organization. However, it is also critically important to assess the current state from a people, process, and technology perspective, and to identify the gaps that will derail progress toward reaching the future state.

    When embarking on a BizOps initiative, it is vital to assess the people gap. However, teams often spend so much time addressing process and technology gaps that they leave little time to address the people gap. To address the people gap, leaders should consider the following questions:

    • Do employees understand where the organization is going? Are they aligned with the new vision of BizOps?
    • Are employees being set up for success? Do they have the necessary skills and resources to be successful in helping make BizOps a reality?
    • Most importantly, do they believe in the value BizOps?

    We’ll look at each of these aspects in more detail below.

    Establish Alignment

    In my recent blog, Harnessing BizOps to Build a Collaborative Culture, I talked about alignment—aligning IT and the business through BizOps. However, all employees need to be aligned with BizOps as well. It is not enough for them to say they understand BizOps. To cultivate employee engagement, people need to be able to articulate how their day-to-day work feeds into the success of BizOps. This is especially true for recent entrants into the workforce. In research by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 83% of respondents felt that people entering the workforce today demand greater visibility into how their work contributes to the organization’s overall success.2

    The basic principles of BizOps focus on creating value and increasing visibility and transparency. (See the BizOps Manifesto for more details on the core principles of this framework.) Consequently, BizOps can be instrumental in giving employees the understanding and visibility that fuel engagement.

    Set People Up for Success

    Often, when we think of setting up employees for success, we think of tools, resources, and training. All of these factors are important, and leaders should definitely address any gaps in these areas. However, setting expectations is often either skipped or skimmed over.

    As discussed in my previous blog, BizOps requires new behaviors and, for many, a new mindset. Time and effort need to be taken to clarify the expected behaviors and mindset that will be needed to make BizOps a success. While training might help level set on what is expected going forward, modeling is also important: Employees are going to look to their leaders to see if they are exhibiting these new behaviors.

    Cultivate a Belief in BizOps

    Getting employees to believe in the value of a new initiative like BizOps could be the hardest job for leaders, especially if they have a disengaged workforce who has decided that they don’t want to waste time on new initiatives because they feel burned by, or burned out from, the failed initiatives of the past. If this is the case, it is important to pursue a number of tactics, including getting employees involved in defining the future state early on, communicating often, being as transparent as possible, celebrating early small wins, and enlisting the help of employees who are early adopters of BizOps to be positive change agents.

    Conclusion

    For an organization to succeed on pretty much any level, employees need to know that they are valued and supported by their supervisor, colleagues, and organization. They need to be clear on how their efforts affect the bigger organizational picture. Depending on the business’ starting point, BizOps can be a new beginning for a disengaged workforce or it can take an engaged workforce to new heights. Either way, BizOps will represent a framework that’s integral to ensuring key business outcomes are realized.

    1. McKinsey & Company, “Culture: 4 keys to why it matters,” March 27, 2018, URL: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-organization-blog/culture-4-keys-to-why-it-matters

    2. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in association with Broadcom, “BizOps: Connecting IT to Business Outcomes,” June 2020, URL/Link: https://learn.broadcom.com/hubfs/BizOps.Com/Resources/HBR%20BizOps%20Connecting%20IT%20to%20Business%20Outcomes%20Final.pdf