Guibert Englebienne, cofounder and chief technology officer of IT and software development company Globant, is a big believer in the benefits of employee empowerment and leveraging technology to make the most of employee feedback to power business success.
Englebienne focuses on leading Globant’s most cutting-edge practices, including Big Data, mobile, cloud, wearables and cognitive computing. He also serves as president and chairman at Endeavor Argentina and was included in the Globalization Today’s “Powerful 25” list, positioning him as one of the industry’s most influential leaders.
Chief Executive spoke with Englebienne about the importance of employee feedback and how executives can make the most of it. Here’s what he had to say:
How CEOs can improve their culture through employee feedback
Everybody pretty much agrees on the importance of culture as the foundation for a successful enterprise. However, I am very surprised with the lack of rigor by which we manage it. If you think about, we have the systems to manage pretty much everything in an organization—ERP, CRM. We also have a workloads, systems for managing the communications for helping people collaborate, but we haven’t had systems to manage that important aspect that is emotions within the enterprise and how are we able to take those emotions and turn it into an expected way to drive a better organization.
When you are growing, many entrepreneurs or founders typically limit their ability to grow because they face the impossibility of transferring those values across geography and hierarchies.
And essentially, when we moved from being a team of four when we founded the company, to more than 7,200 employees globally in 13 countries with different cultures, we decided to create an experiment 10 years ago that proved amazing. This experiment was, essentially, we instilled six corporate values. And knowing that we were not going to be able to be next to everyone and to get to know everyone, we empower our Globers, as we like to call ourselves, to become guardians of the culture. Through technology, we distributed the ability to recognize one another when there was an action realignment with any of these values.
What was interesting was these actions were actually posted in front of a public activity feed that everyone in the company was able to see. So, it was very encouraging for people to actually feel venerated, because every time that they receive one of these little stars which are very limited, and therefore valuable, if you receive a star, you really feel great. But on the other hand, the person who sends it also feels great because now we know that when you do good, you’re actually creating a loop in your brain that actually makes you feel very great.
So, we put in the hands of our employees the ability to nurture a stronger social tissue. But what was more interesting is that these tiny but relevant interactions started to bring light to things that we never saw before. For example, we are now able to see, on a world map, how our different offices are sending proof of love and saying thank you with a star from one office to another. And this is allowing us to see how well our offices are integrated, or how the company that we just acquired is being immersed into our culture. We are able to penetrate the hierarchies and geographies and understand who makes the difference and who maybe they wouldn’t.
Then, we started to suspect there would be a correlation between the performance and the level of activity on these social connections, and actually, there was. The perfect correlation. The people could send and receive more stars are the ones who, at the end of the year or whenever you make an evaluation, you have the ones with better perception.
And closely followed by this in the second year, and then in the third year there was a perfect correlation. And at the end, we said, “Okay. Now, we want to understand if there is a correlation between attrition, which is a common problem in many organizations, particularly in the tech sector, attracting and retaining talent is key.” And actually, there was. We found that while a company typically has a 18% attrition, we have improved on it. And we see the vast majority of the people who are actually engaged with the company are now connected, they leave just by 5%, while people who are not recognized by this solution, they leave by 40%.
How CEOs can implement employee feedback improvements
The CEO or the chairman are the ones who must take action here. Through the use of technology, we are able to penetrate the organization in a way that make the problems appear faster and allow us to solve the disorganization faster.
Today, we’ve reached an interesting time in history for organizations. On one side, we are having increasing consumer demands, a new kind of consumer that is demanding from us what they see in different organizations. On the other hand, we have a workforce that also demanding new things, but because they are consumers in their private lives they demand to see the same type of consumer treatment within the corporation, within the firewall.
So, how do we make sure that our organization is up to a challenge? It requires new ways of thinking. I believe that the organization, the management that we have learned is the old management theory that was coined in the 20th century when we didn’t have technology at hand to organize ourselves in different ways.
Globant is of course using different ways of management in the organization that puts a premium on autonomy, on mastery, and on everybody aligning to the purpose of the organization. So, I would say that, first of all, the CEO, or the founder, or the chairman should step up.