Is Your Strategy for a Better Employee Experience Problem-Focused or Solution-Focused? Design Thinking for Your E-Factor
by Tim Sackett October 18 2017
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This blog is the sixth in our E-Factor series, where we explore hot topics in Employee Experience. To read more about the E-Factor, click here.
Here's what almost all of us do in a normal situation. We have a problem. We look to for ways to get rid of this problem. Sounds fairly normal, right?
There's a concept called "Design Thinking" that many people in technology have been using for a while now. Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it's solution focused and action-oriented towards creating a preferred future.
Don't focus on getting rid of the problem, and spending all of your energy on that. Instead, you basically ignore the problem and solve to create a better possible outcome altogether. This is because getting rid of the problem might not actually fix the main issue you have - usually what you find is it's just a symptom of a larger issue.
I love the concept of design thinking when thinking about employees. Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO says, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
Human-centered. That's what we are in HR! Plus, we truly want everything we do in HR to help our business become more successful.
There are four basic phases of design thinking:
Make Ideas Tangible.
Share Your Story.
So, how can we make this type of problem-solving work in HR, and more specifically how can we use design thinking to help us drive a better employee experience and raise our E-Factor?
Our “problem” is we need to have a better employee experience. Having a better employee experience will help us increase our employee retention, attract better talent, increase our productivity, increase our operating margins, etc.
To gather inspiration we might do a ton of different things. We might look at other organizations who are known to have great employee experience and see what they are doing. We might look outside of the employee realm altogether and take a look at what hospitals do to increase patient satisfaction, or what a top luxury hotel does to “wow” their guests.
We'll use this inspiration to then generate ideas. All kinds of ideas! Big, small, expensive, no-cost, things you believe you can never get approval for, etc. Brainstorm the heck out your inspiration. What might you do for your employee experience if you had no barriers?
Next, you take those ideas and you bring them back to reality. The awesome part of doing this is you'll find some things you never thought possible, all of sudden seem very possible! Making your ideas tangible is also the real work - it's what we get paid to do.
Finally, we need to do some marketing. Perception is the reality. If you share your story about how you're increasing your E-Factor, and you share your results, and you share your successes and failures, pretty soon everyone starts believing that you truly are moving the needle with your employee experience!
Look what we didn't do?!
We didn't focus on solving the symptoms of a bad employee experience. I'm not saying there isn't a time and place for that because there might be. For example, if you have a leader that is making the employee experience awful, you need to address that. But design thinking came at this issue much differently to fix the problem.
Solution-focus is a powerful thing. It's a positive thing as well. You stay grounded in what is possible, not what is not possible. That's hard for us in HR; we tend to be the opposite. But we know it’s worth it. After all, design thinking is what led Steve Jobs to design the iPod, then the iPhone, etc.
Don't think about what you already have. Think about what you could accomplish or build, then go do it!
I’m a 20 year HR/Recruiting Talent Pro with a Master’s in HR and SPHR certification, currently residing in Lansing, MI. Currently the President at HRU Technical Resources – a $40M IT and Engineering contract staffing firm and RPO. Prior to joining HRU, I was the Director of Employment at Sparrow Health System, Regional HR and Staffing Director with Applebee’s Intl., Retail Health Recruiting Manager and Regional HR Mgr. with ShopKo Stores and Pamida respectively. I’ve split my career half between recruiting and half between HR generalist roles – also split half between the HR vendor community and Corporate America – So, I think I get it from both sides of the desk.