FullStack's First Client Satisfaction Survey

FullStack, like many other start-ups, wants to make sure client satisfaction is at an all-time high for existing clients. Therefore, part of our strategic plan included developing a quick survey to send to them annually, here in September.

The good news was that we had 70% participation, which is actually pretty good for super-busy business owners and operators. The super good news is that we have an overall Net Promoter Score of 86% (we were aiming for over 80 for the first survey), with operational areas scoring in the 80’s and 90’s. There’s always places in which we can improve, especially in our first year, so even though we’re perfectionists, we are happy with this constructive feedback and look forward to improving.

The best outcome is that we had some REAL feedback that we have already begun taking to heart, with items we could take action on straightaway. One thing we’ve heard the most is asking for additional services to help our client owners learn about HR and collaborate, so this week, we sent our Slack channel invites to FullStack’s client leaders. We’ve already had some use of the page for private messages and questions, so we’re looking forward to continuing that and letting it grow organically among our client leaders.

It’s all part of our greater mission to help businesses emerge and thrive - You have to have connection in order to leverage knowledge in our business communities, and you have to be willing to communicate with one another to help one another succeed. We’re happy to be helping our clients do so and hope these connections will help them exponentially as they grow and evolve.


HR Start Up Probs

An attorney friend who works in the HR consulting space reached out to me, with three very specific questions, as he’s being interviewed to help grow his business.

  • What do YOU feel are the most significant employee issues that your clients face?  

  • What do they struggle with the most?  

  • What do they NEED the most (either additional internal resources or external/vendor resources, whether they realize it or not)?”

It made me realize that, although every HR issue is unique in a given space or given set of circumstances that are unique to the specific organization, they really do face a common set of issues. FullStack clients are primarily in the emerging business space, so it's the "what do we need to have" from a minimal perspective as they are starting up. Whether it’s hiring their first employee or their fourth employee, there are initial things needed - employment posters, basic handbook, core set-ups with the state (which we handle), payroll set-up, benefits elections, etc.  

Then, once we put that in place, they ultimately will face their first employee issue and face the "what precedent are we setting with what action we take". I had an interesting situation in the last few weeks where a new manager had an employee with an attitude - They were able to talk it through, the employee didn’t realize his/her actions were being perceived as an attitude, and both parties could use it to learn and grow in their roles to help themselves, and ultimately, the company. Sometimes it has that positive outcome - but not always - so we are there to coach them through best practices and follow-up.

As they grow, it's the age old HR issue of "Do we create an HR policy for the few, or do we manage for the many?". They also face common issues like, “At what point do I need a formal PTO policy, and how should it be constructed? How do I balance offering a generous policy to my employees but also making sure I have the resources I need to accomplish the work? How do I construct the policy to be advantageous and a perk to employees, while also not financially accruing a ton of time and facing a shortfall later?” . Then they also have the run of the mill HR items, including attire situations, attendance and performance situations, etc.

For FullStack, while there are patterns in the life cycle of the company, these patterns also indicate what HR problems will arise and when. However, we aren’t complacent about them in the slightest, because every organization’s own unique set of variables will alter the best practice recommendations to those problems. We love working with our clients through these issues and coming up with what’s best for the organizations and their people!


Engagement versus Satisfaction: Tips for Startups
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I recently went to a presentation about focusing on Employee Engagement instead of Employee Satisfaction. Employee Satisfaction is taking a pretty hard hit in the media these days, because if you are merely measuring satisfaction, you’re already behind. Satisfaction is essentially how “okay” a person is with his/her job daily; whereas engagement is the buy-in piece you’re searching for from an employee who is truly leaning into his or her work from an overall buy-in. You have to do more than Net Promoter Score.

For more information, one great summarized source is Gallup’s employee engagement management model, which is divided into four different areas of entitlement, contributions, community, & growth (https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/employee-engagement-employee-satisfaction-difference).

Paraphrased:

  • Entitlement: Do you know what’s expected and do you have the tools to achieve your expectations?

  • Contributions: Can employees contribute daily, in a meaningful way? Are the recognized for this? And can they see how this helps someone (the business? A key client? The world?)

  • Community: Do you have a best friend at work and a voice that’s heard?

  • Growth: Do professional development opportunities exist, in addition to growing within a role?

For startups and growing companies, there needs to be a contrived strategy to address these four areas, on regular timing and intervals; beyond the typical pitfall of “What’s expected of me? Anything and everything to get the job done. Tools to do it? I have to figure that out on my own. We’re a startup, that’s just how startups are.” Creation and delivery of this starts and ends with a leadership team dedicated to it, then empowering the employees to live it with their own voice, speaking up if they are lacking in support in an area.

The true driver to employee engagement is employee buy-in. If employees feel both invested in all four areas, and supported in all four areas, they will be engaged. Daily they will have satisfaction, which will increase productivity. So...what have you done to help engagement of your people today? Pick an area, look at it critically, and ask...but be prepared to act and make it better if it needs improvement. Then tackle the next area. It really is that simple. Start by looking at each area, and be prepared to pivot and identify your organization’s needs. Also be prepared to invest in your people so they have what they need at each step above. The startup journey can be harrowing, you need your employees engaged every step of the way.

Employee Recognition - What Works?

While focusing recently on thoughts of Employee Engagement, recognition comes to the forefront to provide employees feedback on how they are doing. This can be done by a team lead, practice manager, peer, mentor, or mentee - anyone with whom the employee comes into contact. But I have a call to action today - I want to know what you’ve seen work, and what you’ve seen fail miserably.

One item that keeps being mentioned is the need for a remote connectivity tool with the workforce that is so physically scattered in today’s e-work environment. There are apps that can connect individuals where you can give “shout-outs”, make announcements, etc. Other apps, like Slack, allow you to do the same but are employee-controlled with regard to content creation and posting. Are these the best tools for remote engagement?

For in person, we know nothing replaces an in-person “atta boy”, a handwritten Thank You card, or shout-outs at the company meeting. Some companies have a discretionary bonus pool and award for core value recognition. Still others do peer-to-peer recognition on a regular basis.

We know what doesn’t tend to work: Intranets.

So what does work best for you and how often? 

Hit me up with your thoughts at dawn.lively@fullstackpeo.com

Leaders Remember: Motivation is 90% Connection

In a prior blog I had talked about people needing to know what’s expected of them in their job in order to feel a sense of belonging and ongoing motivation. I also believe that 90% of the remaining structure of motivation exists if your employees feel connected.

Brene Brown’s quote sums up connection the best I’ve seen: “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

In your people strategy, start-ups must make sure they are taking time to listen to their employees. Start-up founders are swamped, and oftentimes spread in dozens of different directions. However, they must make a conscious effort to continue to interact with, and seek out, their employees. Their employees must feel they can be open in their communication, that their words are heard in a “safe place”, and that their words are valued.

One mistake I’ve seen multiple scaleups make is sacrificing connectivity with employees for growth of the business. They will argue that it’s a cultural shift when they’re large enough, for example, to hire in senior management who may not take the time to interact with employees like the founders did. I’ve heard many times about the growing pains businesses go through when they shift day-to-day leaders from people-oriented to results-driven leaders. Company numbers may look better, but oftentimes there is an undercurrent of negative culture at play. Results-driven leadership must connect with the employees and take the time to show they value them and their input, or the culture will suffer, leading to a lack of motivation. All of which will ultimately lead to turnover for the organization.

On the other hand, if day-to-day leaders in scaleups take the time to connect with their employees, even at a minimum, the impact on motivation is marked. For example, slacking an employee, “Hey, can we do a quick slack call? I just want to check in.” or stopping by an employee’s workspace, making eye contact, and saying, “How’s it going today? You doing alright? Do you have everything you need, or can I help at all?”. It may lead to a 10 second response or a 10 minute response - so leader, make sure you have a few minutes to give - but those check ins are huge to motivation because your employees feel heard, valued, and connected to you as their voice of the organization. Any company at any phase of their life cycle should have their leaders take the time to do this regularly, as “Focused Attention drives Engagement” (Gallup).

Dawn Lively