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The perfect storm – Why you need research now – employees

A series of ten views – view 1, employees   

Everyone has their own take on the situation that organisations are facing at the moment. As an experienced researcher, I have always seen my role as being to reflect on the data before providing insights. It seems like now, more than ever, is the right time to publish a series of thought pieces on why we need marketing research.

The perfect storm?

Recent research that we have undertaken for a client has clearly indicated that, in the UK, organisations are keenly aware that we are in the eye of two key ‘storm fronts’ currently – to use the ‘perfect storm’ analogy.

  1. COVID
  2. Brexit

The business landscape

The business environment is being shaken in numerous ways, resulting in the following:

  • Uncertainty

There is a continual lack of clarity resulting from the ongoing ‘storms’.

  • Volatility

This means that the sheer rate of change is affecting our views of the world around us. Constant change can be very unsettling for many of us. It is impacting on previous cultural and behavioural norms significantly.

Challenges

Organisations are facing major challenges including:

  • Sink, swim or surf

Of course, there will be some organisations that will benefit from these times but many others from sectors that will be obvious to most of us are still in survival mode. The impacts on financial aspects and all stakeholders, especially employees, are clear to see.

  • Cash

Tightening the purse strings is an inevitable reaction by those facing survival challenges.

  • Hybrid/home working

WFH (working from home) is on everyone’s agenda at this time. It provides opportunities and challenges in equal measure. It is important to recognise that it doesn’t suit everybody! Depending on our personality and behavioural traits, we will find this shift easy or hard to make.

  • Employees’ work/life balance

WFH has an impact on work/ life balance. Many have found the experience very positive but it remains a challenge for others too. Once the novelty has worn off, it can be hard to maintain a balance.

  • Shifts in the psychological contract

Employees are changing the way they view their relationships with employers. Redundancies, job market uncertainty and fear, both short and long term, are contributors to this.

  • Individuals’ focus on personal safety, security and survival

As a result of all of this, some individuals have been pushed into ‘survival’ mode. In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if safety and physiological needs are under threat self-fulfilment is not a key priority.

  • Providing clear direction

A key challenge for leaders in organisations is the critical need to communicate a clear direction during uncertain times.  A ‘roadmap’ for the future, as one respondent to the research described it so well.

  • Changes in customer behaviour and expectations

Our customers’ perceptions and attitudes are shifting too. They were already changing but the catalysts have accelerated this by a significant factor. The move to more online discovery and purchase are obvious, but, perhaps not as immediately visible, are the changes to brand loyalty and the time being spent on exploring alternative options.

Ten thoughts on what you need to research now?

There are plenty of things keeping business leaders awake at night but the key question to answer is:

“What do I really need to know about…?”

I have arrived at ten key areas that need to be considered for exploration now:

  1. Your employees
  2. Your customers
  3. Your markets
  4. Your organisation and internal communication
  5. Your processes
  6. Your products and services
  7. Your competitors
  8. Your strategy
  9. Your marketing communications
  10. Your brand

The first two, in particular, are intended to be in priority order.

Number one must be our people. Without them as the foundation, the other areas would not be important.

Customers would come a very close second.  Without customers an organisation would cease to have a purpose.

The employee view

Back to our core question: what do we really need to know and understand about our people?

As a matter of some urgency, we need to ensure we have a clear view as to the following:

  • Satisfaction
  • Levels of engagement with the organisation
    • Do they feel they belong?
    • Do they feel part of a team?
    • Are they being effectively managed
    • Do they know how they are doing?
    • Are they looking to move to another organisation when the opportunity arises?
  • Emotional states
    • Well being
    • Mental health
    • Self esteem
    • Loneliness
    • Vulnerability
  • Physical health
  • Sense of direction – do they know what the leaders’ plans are?
  • Levels of security or insecurity
    • Financial
    • Emotional
    • Relationships
  • Extent of team working
  • Attitudes to WFH and hybrid working
    • There may be pressure on some to be positive about WFH. Will it be the new ‘normal’? Will people feel able to voice their true feelings about it?
  • Extent to which work/life balance is being realised

Why you really need to know about your employees now…

There is no time like the present to make sure that we fully understand the state of our employee base.

If you need help researching this, let’s talk.

Know your remote audience!

Working from home – how to communicate effectively with your team – top tips

Have you ever wondered why sometimes people don’t react to what you say in the way that you would expect them to?

With the current advice being to work from home, if you can, many of us are in a work situation that is very different from anything that we are used to.

To make sure that organisations and their people remain effective it is vital that we continue to communicate as effectively as we can.

Understand behavioural styles

It is easy to assume that everyone responds in the same way to the way we communicate but they don’t. One of the key factors is our behavioural style. This has an impact on our preferred communication approach which affects how we expect others to communicate with us. This is especially important when it is a manager or team leader communicating with us in the work situation.

Be aware of body language

As managers or team leaders of remote teams, one of the key sets of non-verbal signals that we use in communication – body language – is either partly or completely removed depending on the medium we are using. So it is more important than ever that we try to get our approach right for each person we are communicating with.

What can we do?

One of the tools that is particularly useful in identifying the behavioural characteristics of individuals is the Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA). This can provide an insight into your and your team’s communication preferences.

The PPA measures preferences around four core behavioural and communication styles1:

TOP TIPS:

  1. Know your behavioural style and preferences
  2. Know your team’s behavioural styles and preferences
  3. Modify your style to match theirs when you communicate with them

Dos and Don’ts for communication with individuals with each style

These are dos and don’ts for communicating with your team.  Bear in mind your own preferences will have an influence on your natural approach.

ACTIVE

PASSIVE

Next steps

If you would like to find out more about how the PPA could help you and/or your team please get in touch.

Steve Bax is an accredited practitioner for PPA (Personal Profile Analysis), HPTI (High Potential Trait Indicator), and TEIQue (Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire) assessments (Thomas International). 

With thanks to Thomas International for some of the content detail.  For more information on using the PPA to help make remote working communication successful, see the excellent blog by Jayson Darby at Thomas International here

Radio interview with Cambridge Marketing College on Thomas HPTI (High Potential Trait Indicator) Assessments


The second part of my radio interview with Kiran Kapur, CEO of Cambridge Marketing College. This time I am talking about the Thomas International HPTI (High Performance Trait Indicator) assessment, which identifies leadership potential by exploring personality traits. The second part of the programme looks at marketing communication with the millennial generation.