At a recent SAP Success Factors conference, Amy Wilson (SuccessFactors' Head of Product and Applications Engineering) referred to the observed gap between organizational data and the human motivation data which underpins actual performance margins in organizations. Having bought Qualtrics, the metrics framework for assessing the human experience of organizations and their products, SAP is increasingly aware of the gap between what their orgdata is telling them, and what their employees are actually experiencing. The result can be unexpected resignations, facilitated transitions to competitor firms, or staff burnout.
Qualtrics measures customer and staff experience, and turns that data into actionable insights weighted for 'the biggest impact'. Increasingly, suggests Wilson, the aim needs to be not how to force employees into 'alignment', but how to build effective teams built on human experience journeys. The new organization is built around 'Human Experience Management' (HXM) which supercharges the experiences and motivations of staff, 'connecting to hearts and mind, giving people a voice to enable them to make it their own, and connect and work with others.'
As Claire Madden, an expert in the transition of millennials into the workplace, has recently noted, this reflects the pressing need for responses to an increasing challenge for the traditional organization, which has built its competitiveness around using people as 'resources', and creating controllable, artificial 'economies of action'. Millennials, on the other hand, strive after authenticity and learn by throwing themselves into experiences. The SAP approach is one way of addressing this, but may well have unexpected outcomes. After all, the same data which is generated to humanize the corporation, is effectively being used to control and mobilize its staff. At what point does the technical facilitation of human functions become seen as mere mechanization, and so participating in the inauthenticity which underpins millennial disengagement? Keeping the balance right will become a critical skill in organizational leadership.
For more on Claire Madden's work on Millennials and the Workplace, see: