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Engagement, CliftonStrengths: Experitec's Incremental Approach

Engagement, CliftonStrengths: Experitec's Incremental Approach

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 65
  • Learn more about one company's incremental approach to implementing Gallup's Q12 and CliftonStrengths tools, and the long-term benefits of this strategy.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Jessica Tietjen, Manager of Experitec's Shared Services Group and Top 10 Manager of the Year nominee, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Jessica charted the incremental journey Experitec, an employee-owned company, has followed in adopting Gallup's Q12 employee engagement and CliftonStrengths tools and embedding them in the corporate culture. Her insights included:

  • The importance of a long-term commitment to using these tools
  • Her path to leadership buy-in and companywide implementation of the tools
  • How managers, each with their own unique style, can "up their game" and improve their teams' performance

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Our employees are so bought in to who we are, and realize that engagement is not just a flavor of the week; ... It's our metric. ... Their commitment to it and their ownership of their own engagement is what really drives it.

Jessica Tietjen, 31:01

I would tell other organizations that if you can make incremental progress, and then show that to your leadership team and get their buy-in, the rest becomes so much easier.

Jessica Tietjen, 29:12

I don't let anybody who works with me be in a position of, "Well, I can't," or ... "There's no way." There is a way; we just haven't figured it out yet. And so we've got to get into that growth mindset ... to move things forward.

Jessica Tietjen, 44:57

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on August 14, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:19

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. And I think maybe that term "Maximizer" is going to become important today since all three of us share that Maximizer theme. If you're listening live, join us in the chat room. That's actually a link right above me there. You can take it -- go take it to YouTube. Sign in with your gmail account. And then we would love to see you and have your questions in chat. If you have questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're there on YouTube, you can subscribe to the channel. Click the "Like" button; that's always helpful for us in discovery. And of course, you can catch this as a podcast on any podcast app, just search "Gallup Webcasts" and find us there. Lindsey Spehn is our host today. Lindsey's a Regional Manager here at Gallup. And Lindsey, it is always great to have you on Called to Coach. Welcome back!

Lindsey Spehn 1:10

Thanks so much, Jim. Always great to be here. Appreciate it!

Jim Collison 1:13

We have a tremendous guest today. Why don't you take a second to introduce her?

Lindsey Spehn 1:17

Yeah, absolutely. Well, today I am so excited, Jim to have our great partner, Jessica Tietjen here from Experitec with us. Jessica is responsible for all of Experitec's Shared Services Group. This includes talent management, information technology, legal order management, project coordination, marketing and administration. Jessica is motivated each day by her core purpose to help people fully enjoy their life, including their work, so one day, they can look back and say, "I lived a great life and Experitec was part of it." Jessica achieves this purpose through her many passions and talents, which ensure she's continually learning and improving, both personally and to be the best manager for the employees that she serves every day. So let's hear about some of those great talents. Jessica, would you mind sharing your top themes with us?

Jessica Tietjen 2:06

Sure, absolutely. So my No. 1 is Communication, Maximizer, Ideation, Input and Strategic. Those are my Top 5.

Lindsey Spehn 2:14

Great, I love that. As Jim said, a little bit of Maximizer between me and you and Jim here today. I love it! Thank you. Well, with these success stories that Jim has been curating here in Called to Coach, we are featuring some of our very best practice partners who have infused Gallup tools into their organizations. And today we are featuring a now two-time Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award Winner: Experitec. And Jim, you know, really, the cherry on top of today is not only are we in the presence of organizational excellence today, but our guest Jessica was a 2020 Top 10 Manager of the Year nominee. This honor is bestowed upon just a handful of managers each year, but out of the dozens who are nominated by their organizations.

Lindsey Spehn 2:59

So on top of the Experitec story today, we're have -- we're gonna have to learn a little bit more about Jessica's management talents as well. So, like previous success story episodes, we'll structure our conversation loosely into 3 parts. First, we'll start with how the partnership began. Then we'll get into some of the implementation steps that Experitec took as they rolled out some of our tools, and then we'll wrap it up with talking about some of the impact and results that they've seen within their organization.

Lindsey Spehn 3:28

Of course, as Jim mentioned earlier in the, in the preshow, we welcome your questions throughout. So please type those in the chat and then we'll get to those at the end of the conversation today. So let's get to it. Enough from me. Jessica, if you don't mind, could you share with us just a little bit more about your organization, Experitec.

Jessica Tietjen 3:45

Sure, so Experitec is a Emerson Impact Partner. And as such, we sell products and services into process automation industries. So we are in virtually every manufacturing sector that there is that involves process automation. We've got about 200 employees; we're a small, smallish sized company located in the Midwest. Our headquarters is in St. Louis, Missouri, but we cover Missouri, Kansas, parts of Tennessee, Illinois, Arkansas, a little bit of, of Nebraska, and Oklahoma, and a little bit of Mississippi and Kentucky. So kind of that, that central Midwest location is, is our territory.

Lindsey Spehn 4:31

Great. Thank you. And I know I mentioned your formal title, but one of our favorite questions here at Gallup is what you get paid to do. So could you talk to us a little bit about that?

Jessica Tietjen 4:41

Yeah. So I, I like to think of it, and it's kind of along with the purpose that you described, I like to think of, of my role as an enabler to help employees be the best that they can be. So whether that's through performance management, whether that's through technology and the use of technology and leveraging technology, whether it's through administrative support, or even -- not just, but even management of people to help them be the best that they could be. That's what I think I really get paid to do.

Lindsey Spehn 5:11

I love that. And just the Maximizer is so loud in that. And that's, that's amazing. Thank you. Well, as we get into the story here today, Jessica, wanted to start with just kind of speaking about how it all began. So could you talk to us a little bit about what initially sparked your interest in Gallup, our tools, our offerings?

Jessica Tietjen 5:32

Yeah, so, so for me, it all goes back to our organization, I guess, probably 7, 6-7 years ago, really didn't have any formal performance management in place. We were hiring like crazy, but we didn't really -- we weren't providing people a lot of development, a lot of performance conversations. At the time, I was tasked with implementing performance reviews, and felt pretty strongly back in, back in 2014-2015, there was a lot of research coming out about how performance reviews are very ineffective, and that most organizations were moving away from that.

Jessica Tietjen 6:07

At the time, I stumbled upon a book that you might be familiar with, First, Break All the Rules. And I just liked the title. I thought it sounded great. I'm a person who likes to break rules. So I was like, All right, let's, let's check out, check out this book. And when I read it, I thought it was brand new. I thought it was like cutting-edge, like the newest research; it didn't look at the publication date. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, I stumbled on this new thing. And then when I, when I looked back, I realized that the research has been around for quite some time. And that was really the basis then for our organization to look at using the Q12, the engagement survey that Gallup uses, or produces, as our, as our metric at kind of the foundation for performance management.

Lindsey Spehn 6:55

OK, great. And so talk to us, as we, as we get into kind of the rollout of this tool, could you talk to us about how any buy-in with leadership needed to be created? Obviously, you're a leader within the organization. You seem to, you know, really kind of understand the value of it. But sometimes, you know, folks that might be listening need some help with, you know, kind of generating that buy-in amongst, amongst leadership. So could you talk to us about how you did that at the beginning?

Jessica Tietjen 7:24

Yeah. So we're an engineering organization, which means we have a lot of people with Analytical talents, including our leadership team. And so I really approached it from a metrics standpoint of, rather than looking at performance as a set of activities or tasks that we need to do, how do we approach it based on the results we want to get, which is improved outcomes, improved business, improved performance? You know, how do we approach it from that perspective? So I put together what complemented the Q12, which was our performance -- our approach to performance management, which we call "Agile Performance Management." And the basis of that or the measurement for how we're doing at that is Gallup's Q12. And so that is, you know, your, our measurement to know, Are we doing the right things to achieve the results, to achieve the outcomes?

Jessica Tietjen 8:18

And, and as I put that in front of leadership, I think they really welcomed that it was a metrics, research-based approach, you know, rather than a checklist of we've got to hold these conversations, or we got to fill in these forms, or we got to do these certain steps. Instead, it's a more agile approach, which is, you know, Let's let our managers do what they most need to do to achieve that engagement with their teams, and then measure it and hold people accountable.

Lindsey Spehn 8:48

Great, thank you. So when we think about the timeline of this all, you know, I believe our formal partnering was close to 2016. And before that, there was, you know, some of that initial interest on your side of things. So as we get into 2016, and as, you know, the Q12 starts to become, you know, more interwoven into what you do at Experitec, could you break it down, you know, kind of, you know, down to the tactical pieces of What did that look like exactly, as we get into kind of the approach and implementation, how is this implemented, exactly? How is it introduced across the organization?

Jessica Tietjen 9:23

Yeah, so, like I said, first I introduced it to leadership. Then we took it to our managers. So we trained our managers, not just in what the Q12 was, but also in setting expectations, providing feedback, development and then accountability. And those are our, you know, what we call our 4 Keys to Agile Performance Management, which are very similar, I think, to Gallup's, you know, performance management model as well.

Jessica Tietjen 9:50

And so we trained all of our managers on that, rolled that out to them, introduced them to it. There was a lot of buy-in with managers pretty quickly. Then we actually started doing the survey. And we do the survey twice a year, and we really use it as an active metric for our organization. So we did it the first time. And then we followed it up with training and debriefing the entire organization. So we had 2 days of training. One was focused on engagement and performance management; the other was focused on accountability, and accountability tying to engagement is really having employees take ownership for the Q12 and, and, and owning their own engagement. We trained the whole organization in that, so that people would be really aware of what we were doing. And then, and then from that point on, it became much more organic, you know, then we we did, you know, different things each time we rolled out a new set of engagement scores.

Lindsey Spehn 10:50

Jessica, you mentioned that with managers specifically, which we all know how important of a group that is, and we'll get to that a little bit later. But with managers, specifically, you mentioned there was buy-in pretty quickly. Could you talk to us about why you think that was, or what specifically resonated with them about just the Q12 as a metric?

Jessica Tietjen 11:07

Yeah, I think that managers knew that the old approaches really didn't work and were pretty, they were pretty limited in their ability to influence in -- within those bounds. But giving them a metric, giving them something to look at that they knew was tied to outcomes allowed them to focus on the right things. So that data became very actionable and real to them, and something they could, they could look at and, and know that there was a next step for them; know that there was something else that they could do to impact the performance of their teams, and then measure it again. And know, you know, did they make progress on it? Did the efforts that they used have an impact? So I think that that was a big part of their buy-in.

Lindsey Spehn 11:56

Yeah. And I think, too, you know, when I speak with organizations here, in our territory, you know, I think about how some of our very best-practice clients like yourself, are using the Q12 with their managers as kind of a competency framework. So I think that also kind of provides a little bit of, you know, focus, but also just kind of takes the weight off their shoulders that, look, if I can just nail, you know, these 12 fundamental needs or, you know, create an environment, you know, where these needs are fulfilled for all of my team members, you know, that that makes it very doable.

Lindsey Spehn 12:29

And we know that that most local team level is really where the traction around engagement growth is going to be. So, so I love to hear that, that your managers found it helpful from the get-go.

Jessica Tietjen 12:39


Lindsey Spehn 12:40

And I know, Jessica, based on previous conversations, that the Q12 kind of functions as somewhat of an expectation for managers as well. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jessica Tietjen 12:48

Yeah, so we consider our Q12 to be managers' outcomes. So as a manager, rather than set again, rather than set, "You've got to do this many conversations, or you've got to fill in these forms" as an expectation for managers, instead, as a manager -- and we really focus on the first 6 of the Q12 most heavily, for managers in particular -- but of, you know, setting those clear expectations, providing regular feedback, making sure employees have the right tools, making sure you're talking about development, making sure employees are using their, their strengths every day. Really focusing on those first 6 questions as their metric on how they're doing as managers.

Jessica Tietjen 13:29

A lot of the different questions, we also really pay attention to the fact that those questions vary. So you get a bunch of new members. They're not going to have a lot of best friends at work yet. They're brand new employees. So those metrics become something you can keep looking at. And it's neither good nor bad. It's just your current state. How are you currently doing as a manager? And what are the outside influences? What's the employee experience that's leading to those engagement results so that the manager can know where to focus their efforts, where to pay attention and where, you know, where to meet the needs of their employees?

Lindsey Spehn 14:06

And as we mentioned, engineers love metrics. So it sounds like it landed really well with them. That's great. So along, bringing us kind of along with your journey, then, Jessica, at what point did you start to layer in the CliftonStrengths assessment? And what did that look like?

Jessica Tietjen 14:21

So CliftonStrengths came second to us. So I started using it from the very beginning with my team, which is really how I approach things. So I'm a heavy believer in, in, I got to prove it first and if, if it can really work, before I'm going to advocate it to the, to the broader organization or really push for it to the whole organization. So I've been using it with my team. Our leadership team then, then also began using it, or took the assessment and really saw the value in it.

Jessica Tietjen 14:50

I went and got the Strengths Certified -- the Accelerated Strengths Certification for myself and brought that back. And we actually started with our high-potential group, which is called our "I LEAD" group. That stands for "Individual Leadership Excellence through Accelerated Development." And they're our, our high potentials, and we did a half-day strengths-based, you know, blitz of all the different materials around that. And those individuals left that session with this -- you're gonna have a hard time ever topping this. This was amazing. This was so great. This was so insightful. And so that was really our first step into it. And, and we really saw the effects of that.

Jessica Tietjen 15:34

Consequently, many of our I LEADers, when we did this a number of years ago, are now in key leadership positions. So they became strengths advocates in our organization, as a result of that, as they moved into management roles. Then we moved from our high-potential group to our sales force. And we actually did both an assessment and we did strengths with our entire sales force as well, to impact that, that group in our organization. And then from there, we've kind of slowly made it, made our way through the whole organization till I think right now we have probably 90% of the organization who's taken strengths, and now it's part of our onboarding process as well.

Lindsey Spehn 16:16

Great. Yeah, I love that your story involves kind of starting small within just your team and kind of using that to make a case for it, you know. What were some of the things within that initial group, whether it was with your team, Jessica, or with the I LEAD team, what were some of the things that you noticed that, you know, made you say, "OK, this is going to be a great one to put in my case for, you know, wanting to roll it out to the entire organization"?

Jessica Tietjen 16:44

Yeah, so one of, one of the examples I really like to use is my high Maximizer, right. So I have, I have high Maximizer. And I had employees who were stopping, who weren't providing me, who stopped providing me information, stopped, stopped giving me drafts of things because they knew I was going to edit it, or they knew I was going to change it. And they had, they were taking that as criticism that they weren't doing a good job, they shouldn't have even tried; they should have just let me start it. And then through the strengths, you know, understanding one another's strengths, they realized that I was really just maximizing it. I really, it was good to begin with; I just wanted to make it better. And that actually, I'm better if I have something to start with, if I have something to look at, to maximize. That me starting from a blank slate is really hard for me to do. So them getting it started actually got us all further, faster.

Jessica Tietjen 17:38

And then that really allowed us to see how leveraging different people's strengths within the team allowed us to complement each other a lot more effectively than we had been before. And rather than pushing people to do things that made them uncomfortable, we really lined people up to do things that they enjoyed or came most naturally and, and use somebody else to do the task that wasn't -- that didn't fit as much. So with some of those experiences that led me to say, "Let's do this as our high-potential program." And then when we did it with them, they just had such major insights in how they would go back to work and how they would interact with people that I think that it just became natural. It just became, you know, it just fit really well with who we are as an organization.

Lindsey Spehn 18:24

Exactly. Well, and you know, I think one of our favorite things that Gallup -- I know, personally, one of my favorite things just to kind of experience in my role is seeing how organizations like Experitec, Jessica, take, you know, CliftonStrengths, engagement, other tools that we have, and really make it your own within your organization. So it doesn't become, you know, such a "Gallup thing" that we're doing; it's very much, you know, an Experitec thing with Gallup's partnership, you know, that's, that's happening here. So as you think about some of those ways where you have really taken our tools and made them their own, could you talk about some of those unique programs and offerings within Experitec?

Jessica Tietjen 19:04

Yeah, so one of the things I always like to get out there for, for folks who are who are doing this is we're a super-transparent organization in general. But we made our engagement scores visible to everyone in the organization, or to all of our managers. So all of our managers can see not only their scores, but each other's scores. And I think that that creates a natural tendency to, you know, focus on or to pay attention to the scores. When you look in Gallup's Database, and you see a bunch of red, you really hone in on that, and you realize you've got to take action, you've got to, got to do something with it.

Jessica Tietjen 19:42

And then that led us to OK, so how do we support managers? And then how do we connect more with employees on the experience that's leading to those scores.? And so we started hosting employee engagement sessions. And what those are, is they're they're based in, in a particular office, and we do them in our 3 main offices. They're officewide, so everybody comes in. We have our leadership team there, and we all split up amongst different tables. And we've got, you know, round tables with maybe 10 people at them. And then we have different questions that we're focused on; we've taken different approaches when we've done that; we've focused on what's working well, what's not working. You know, each one's been a little bit different. But those sessions have allowed us to get just such great feedback.

Jessica Tietjen 20:30

The first one we did was in an office that was really struggling with engagement at the time, and we weren't sure anyone was even going to show up. We weren't sure if it was going to be an empty room. And in fact, there were so many people in the room, we had to bring in more chairs, to fit everybody. People really like the engagement sessions. They really like coming, and getting to talk with leadership, getting to provide input, getting to hear what other employees are experiencing, or what's working. And that has led us as a leadership team to a lot of actions. To realize where, you know, expectation setting wasn't what it needed to be, we needed to go back and work on that. Or in one office, that relationships were a challenge; that people weren't really interacting with each other. So how do we build that in that office? So that's been one of our, I think, one of my favorite examples of something we've done kind of building on, on the Gallup information. Another one -- sorry, go ahead, Lindsey.

Lindsey Spehn 21:26

No, please, please keep sharing!

Jessica Tietjen 21:29

Another one that we did is, or another one I think is really helpful is a lot of organizations do talent reviews. And when we do ours, we put the strengths right at the top of that talent review. So you've got the person's name, strengths, their picture, and we're talking about their strengths and development needs and, and future career options. And that really created a good discussion where when, you know, development needs were coming up or challenges were coming up, you could really look at the strengths and say, OK, here's why. OK, that makes sense. How do we leverage that? Or how, who might we partner this person with to counterbalance some of those, those challenges?

Jessica Tietjen 22:08

So strengths really got integrated into those development conversations with managers, and some more than others. But I think that that's a great example of a simple way you can incorporate it, but really get into that discussion of who has which strengths? And how does that, how does that come out in what they're doing every day?

Lindsey Spehn 22:28

How often do you have those talent reviews?

Jessica Tietjen 22:30

So we review everyone in the organization once a year. We do them -- so it's our leadership team plus our managers, which is new. We just add our, added our managers this year. Historically, it's just been our leadership team. But we've added our managers, and we do it in different groups. So we do like all of operations at one point. We do all of sales at one point. We do all of services at another point. But we try to get through the whole organization every year.

Lindsey Spehn 22:58

Great. So you know this as well as us, but we know, based on our data that managers -- so I love your focus on managers -- managers can account for over 70% of the variance in engagement. And I know one of the other ways that you have really gotten creative with, you know, our tools, our data and bringing it to life at Experitec, Jessica was that in 2009, you actually had a focus on people managers. Could you talk to us a little bit more about that? I know, you infuse kind of the 5 Pillars of Great Management from our It's the Manager book. So what did that look like?

Jessica Tietjen 23:33

Yeah, so we did, we incorporated the, those 5 pillars in some questions that we put into our -- added on to our engagement Q12 survey, so managers could get a little bit more feedback, a little bit more focus, or input on, on those elements of being a manager. We've also tried to look at -- and I wouldn't say we've been perfect in this -- but we've been working on trying to give managers small pieces of, of training or small pieces of workshops to try to help incorporate some of those, those key elements or those key pillars of being a great manager with some real tactical, actionable ways that they can incorporate it. So that's something I think we're still trying to work on, we're still trying to enhance even this year, especially in this remote work environment. How does that impact, you know, being a great manager? And how do you put in different techniques? You can't do management by walking around if you can't actually walk around. So, so how does that look different?

Lindsey Spehn 24:40

It's a great transition to what I was thinking about asking you next, which was, you know, in this period of disruption, we might be virtual. You know, we might be working remote; we might not all have those "watercooler conversations." So you talked a bit about the management approach there. But as you think about the implementation of your ongoing CliftonStrengths and employee engagement efforts, what, what have you been able to do to adapt to this virtual setting to make sure that those concepts are still landing, that they're still continuing to be a part of our fabric at Experitec?

Jessica Tietjen 25:10

Yeah. So we've done, we've done some virtual workshops. We've continued to do, we've continued to do touchpoints with managers. I think we've also put in place some, some guidance for managers on frequency, you know, need for the different types of interaction. So, you know, one of those is that managers have a touchpoint every day with employees, even if that's for 5 or 10 minutes. And, you know, so a bunch of our teams -- or, and my teams in particular -- have, you know, different 15- ,20-minute, you know, touchpoints. Coffee in the morning, How are things going?, understanding what's really going on with people, you know, trying to make sure we have those, those key communication points.

Jessica Tietjen 25:54

We've also tried to do some, you know, social involvement, which is hard remotely. But back in, back in March, when this all started, actually, we had our Employee Appreciation Day and, and our share-price reveal. We're an employee owned business, so we had our first Share-Price Reveal Day planned. And unfortunately, that had to go virtual. But we had a lot of fun. We did awards that people nominated different people for, we did a most-creative cocktail contest, we did breakfast in our, you know, our president kicked it off with his breakfast. And so we tried to do some really fun things.

Jessica Tietjen 26:34

Right now, we're actually doing Christmas in August, which is kind of fun. So we're doing Secret Santa, and each employee that wanted to participate gets assigned a secret person to mail a gift to. And so we're mailing gifts to each other. And then it'll all be revealed at the end of the month of who was, you know, each person's Secret Santa. So kind of just some fun things to try to keep people connected, you know, keep people engaged and, and communicating with each other.

Lindsey Spehn 27:05

Ooh, I love that! Jim, we'll have to figure out -- we've got to make that happen at Gallup somehow; that's so fun! What a great idea to keep people connected. Well, Jessica, as you think about, you know, all the great work that you've done with, you know, engagement, strengths, with your managers, I know that you give a lot of credit to your key partners internally. You're so great about, you know, bringing others along for the journey and making sure that they're really important to the ongoing strategy. So could you talk a little bit about the importance of those partners, and feel free to name names if you'd like, but what does that look like? Because a lot of the time, you know, I think sometimes folks, you know, in your position who are very interested in engagement and strengths, they tend to find that, you know, it's a lot to do by yourself. So talk to us about the key partnerships you've had in this implementation.

Jessica Tietjen 28:01

Yeah, so I think I'll start, actually, with the leadership team, because I think I am just truly blessed with a tremendous team of leaders that I get to partner with every day who really, truly believe in the value of people, doing the right thing by people and the focus on performance and engagement. They are as committed to it as I am. They, you know, bring the scores back -- our, you know, one of our key sales leaders, he, as soon as the engagement scores are out, brings it right back to his first, you know, sales cadence that he has, his monthly sales meeting, and talks about it with his team.

Jessica Tietjen 28:39

So each group, really, each of our leaders really cares about those results, really cares about our people. If anything, we kind of step on each other in what's the best way to do it, which doesn't necessarily really matter, as long as we're doing it well. So I don't care necessarily if one person's development conversation or template or whatever looks different than someone else's, the fact that we're all doing it is just so key. So I really, really think and value each of them as being just such great partners.

Jessica Tietjen 29:11

And I would tell other organizations that if you can make incremental progress, and then show that to your leadership team and get their buy-in, the rest becomes so much easier, because they will really, you know, make the outcome, outcome what it is. So that's where I'd want to start.

Jessica Tietjen 29:28

I also think, my, I have a fantastic talent management team. So Jamie and Kara, and Meldina more, more recently -- she's been with me for a couple years now -- have really done a tremendous job supporting this. Both Jamie and Kara are also Strengths Certified, so they do our Intro to Strengths Coaching for new employees. They can touch base with employees on how to leverage their strengths more effectively. They are big believers in engagement and strengths and understanding how it ties to performance, and are just incredibly talented people, I'm super, super blessed to have them as part of my, my team and, and Meldina, who's, who's my more, my newer member, she's got high Analytical, and that's my No. 34. So she is just my key partner in anything data. So if we need to put, you know, spreadsheets together or information together, she is just a fantastic partner.

Jessica Tietjen 30:25

And then I think the other thing is our managers, who really have bought in to trying to be great managers -- even some of the, those managers that had the most challenging scores to begin with have come so far and done so much with their groups and really care about our people. And so they're all working on continuing to be better managers.

Jessica Tietjen 30:49

And then I'm going to be really annoying and go one step further and say, though, that it's really all of our employee owners. So the fact that we have such an ownership mindset and such a, you know, our employees are so bought in to who we are, and, and realize that engagement is not just a "flavor of the week"; we've been doing it, we do it twice a year, we do it every year. And it's our metric. It's who we are; it's what we do. And I think their commitment to it and their ownership of their own engagement is what really drives it.

Jessica Tietjen 31:21

So when we do accountability sessions, when we look at mindset, when we look at How do, how do I take action on an area where maybe I don't have the highest level of engagement? I think that's where the rubber really meets the road. Because I can fix benefits; I can, you know, try to make the organization technology better. But in the end, it's the employee owner who is engaging with their manager, who's engaging in the dialogue, who's showing up to engagement sessions that really makes the difference.

Lindsey Spehn 31:52

Absolutely, yes, it's, you know, everyone owns engagement. It's not, you know, just the manager, it's not just leadership that owns it. Truly, everyone needs to own it. And I think that's been really proven, exemplified well within Experitec. So as you think about your journey the past 4 or 5 years, Jessica, what challenges or barriers have you, have you seen? And how did you get over those?

Jessica Tietjen 32:16

Yeah, so for sure, our financial challenges. So we've been up and down over the last few years with the market. We were heavily tiled -- tied to the oil and gas market a number of years ago, so we've gone through some some ups and downs. We've had some good years, and we've had some challenging years. And that impacts engagement. So even though, you know, you'd like to, to think that if you're doing all the right things, you know, that, that the financial won't, won't impact it -- it does, right.

Jessica Tietjen 32:47

So even in this remote work environment, you know, we just did our most recent engagement survey, and we did it right after we announced, you know, a hiring freeze, you know, while we were waiting our way through this remote work and, and COVID-19 pandemic, and what does it mean to our business, you know, time period. And, and we're actually quite pleased that, that engagement didn't, it dropped by .01. So, you know, it was not significantly impacted. And that was, that was pretty good, given, given the, the market and the the challenges that we have. So I think that's probably been our biggest challenge as an organization is, you know, more of the market factors and still taking ownership of achieving results in spite of those challenges.

Lindsey Spehn 33:35

Yeah, engagement doesn't stop. In fact, you know, it's perhaps within those challenges, and these periods of disruption might be the best time to be a listening ear, you know, to your employee owners and all your team. So, so it's great to hear. Well, you kind of mentioned it, Jessica, but I think as we get into kind of our third chapter here of impact, I'd love to hear a little bit more, you know, based on, around, based around, you know, the great things that you've done around strengths, engagement, training, everything that you've done within the organization. What are some of the ways that you are seeing this has truly impacted Experitec?

Jessica Tietjen 34:12

Yeah, so we've looked at a number of different metrics. We looked at our sales, our profitability, our productivity. And as we've, as we've measured that we've really been able to see -- even in our -- so we, we saw engagement dip, and it dipped almost exactly when our profit or our profitability or our sales dipped at the same time that our engagement did. So it really, they really mirror each other in terms of, in terms of what -- how we're doing as an organization, but we've seen a huge, huge increases there. And really, it trends right along with our engagement scores.

Jessica Tietjen 34:50

So the more engaged our organization has become, you know, the bigger our bookings, shipments, gross profit, you know, has progressed. And then our productivity was another one that was a big measure for us was being able to see, you know, our sales per, per total headcount, and, and how we actually, through some of the challenging circumstances we went through, we shrunk our headcount. But we were able to maintain our sales. So we were able to do more business or the same business with fewer heads than what we were able to do previously, which I think speaks to, again, our employee owners, who are committed to continuing to become more productive, improve themselves, be engaged, leverage their strengths, and continue to do better in our business every day.

Lindsey Spehn 35:40

Yes. And I know, as part of the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award application, we look for some of those things, right. So we look at, you know, what are some of the business metrics? It's not just engagement -- engagement's very important, but what are some of those business metrics that are also, you know, kind of following as, as a result of impact of your great efforts? So congratulations on, on that great achievement. And I know you mentioned your most recent survey of, I think it was back in June. And we, we typically here at Gallup, would define a world-class engagement ratio to be anything over 14:1. And I know, Jessica, that Experitec was, was way over that. So would you like to talk to us about just kind of what that means to you, and, and how you view those types of kind of metrics as pillars of success for you and your leadership team?

Jessica Tietjen 36:30

Yeah. So I was hammering that metric before the, I forget which survey it was when we when we surpassed it. But I had been hammering it before, and when we got the metric back, and it was much higher -- I can't remember what it was right now, but it was significant. And it was almost like, Well, what do we, what do we focus on now? You know, what do we, you know, that, that's incredible, that's amazing that we got to that point. So we've really moved to focusing on the actively disengaged, and could we ever get that to zero? So that you if really don't like working for us, then just don't work for us, you know, kind of kind of methodology? But, so I think, I think that is, you know, that's been a key, you know, a key element for us in, in, in following that, that engagement metric. I think we, we try to celebrate, you know, our managers who've improved the most, our teams that have improved the most, looking at different, you know, different recognition around all of the engagement scores as we, as we get those each -- every 6 months.

Lindsey Spehn 37:43

Great. So we covered some quantitative impacts. Anything qualitatively, Jessica, that you'd like to share, as kind of evidence that, you know, some of these things are making an impact at Experitec?

Jessica Tietjen 37:55

I think the, in my mind, the biggest thing is the feeling of what it's like to work with an engaged organization. And, you know, you mentioned I've got kind of an interesting span of responsibility, where I get to work with lots of different groups in the organization. And seeing how people work together, seeing employees who, you know, pick up the phone to figure out the problem, who just really want to do what's right for our customers. And so because they're engaged, because they're developing relationships, because they really care about our business, they do whatever it takes. They, you know, they dig in, they take the call on, you know, for, to deal with a customer issue on the weekend. Whatever it is, they are committed to delivering those results, and to continuing to solve whatever problem, you know, we encounter.

Jessica Tietjen 38:46

So I think it's that that's the qualitative piece, it feels good. People really like each other. I love everybody I work with. I just really, our employees, and I don't say this facetiously, I really like them. I really like everyone that I work with. I enjoy everybody, I love -- the hardest part right now in this remote work environment is there's a lot of people I don't get to see. I don't get to travel to our other offices. And, you know, those are, those are important and valuable relationships that I think we all have. So, you know, that collaboration, that, that relationship-building, that problem-solving, that knowing that everybody there is doing their best, that nobody's, you know, intentionally causing an issue. And so it's more about just figuring out how to get on the same page and how to, you know, resolve it than it is about, you know, whether somebody's, you know, watching TV instead of doing their job kind of things.

Lindsey Spehn 39:41

Absolutely. Yeah, and we see, you know, kind of the interweaving of the engagement science, the Q12 plus CliftonStrengths in that. Because once you have kind of a common language on both fronts for managers and all of your employee owners, I think when, you know, crises or, you know, problems do arise, you now have a very common language where you can look at it very objectively and say, Hey, this is how we can get through it. So --

Jessica Tietjen 40:04

Well, and I think also the other, the other thing I wanted to mention with the now having some of the results, again, because we're, we have a lot of analytical engineers. Being able to see those results -- the first time I presented those internally, to a group of new hires that we were training -- because we train everybody on, on engagement and agile performance management when they join the organization -- they came up to me afterwards, like "That is so exciting, like that is so cool to see the, those numbers, to see how significantly they increased, how significantly engagement has impacted our organization."

Jessica Tietjen 40:41

And I think that that really drives further buy-in, so people become really connected to, you know, those results, and that the biggest hurdle early on -- we were talking about challenges before -- I think is before you see that result, having people really believe that that outcome is achievable. That doing these steps, that making sure employees are engaged, that coaching them, providing them the right performance feedback is gonna -- and particularly, leveraging their strengths -- is gonna impact your business results. And that's the key correlation I think businesses have to make is connecting those two together and realizing if you do this well, then the outcomes will follow.

Lindsey Spehn 41:21

Couldn't have said it better. And I think at the very beginning, Jessica, you mentioned how for you, it was incremental steps. And so I love knowing that, you know, I think at the beginning, you know, some people listening might be thinking about taking that leap of faith and, you know, rolling out strengths companywide, or infusing the Q12. And it can kind of seem, you know, like a big task to do. But if you focus on how we, you know, take baby steps, and, you know, get education out there around the Q12. I love that you do it in onboarding, that's, that's just a great idea. It makes it a lot more achievable.

Jessica Tietjen 41:54

Yeah, and I think, you know, I think that, what I'll say is that it's amazing that my employees nominated me as a, as a great manager, I was not a great manager 6 or 7 years ago. I really didn't know what I was doing. And applying the the principles and just continuing to work at it and continuing to look at the engagement scores, take that feedback, understand the experience of my employees, and change my approach has has really changed who I am. And really, I think that's what's made me better is that feedback from, from my team, from my employees.

Jessica Tietjen 42:29

So I think, you know, two things. One is, for anybody who's out there, you know, looking at moving forward their organization and maybe doesn't have these different things in place, is, yeah, incremental is absolutely the way to go. Don't look at it as insurmountable. Just keep whittling away, just keep taking one little piece and working on it, and another little piece and working on it. And eventually you'll get there.

Jessica Tietjen 42:54

And then for managers, Don't give up. Because if you just keep listening, and you're open to the feedback, that's probably the hardest part is recognizing maybe you're not as good as you think you are or that your approach isn't working for a particular employee. So you may be doing the best job you, you think you can, but it may not work for the person that you're, that you're managing. So you've got to really understand who you're managing and what their needs are, and craft your approach in working with them. And that's what I think has really made a difference, you know, in, in my style, in where I've gotten and where our organization collectively has, has got.

Lindsey Spehn 43:33

Great. So let's dig into that. That was a perfect transition because, like I said at the beginning, we not only get to highlight Experitec's amazing organizational excellence, but I wanted to be sure to take time being that we have one of our Top 10 Manager of the Year nominees with us to dig into what are some of the ways that you're approaching management? So you touched a little bit on some of your best practices just now. But what else would you say maybe just in general, or specific to this period of disruption? What are some ways that you're looking at your role as a manager right now?

Jessica Tietjen 44:02

So I think for me, and honestly, with my team, I think we're all in a growth mode. So we're in that -- I like to say if you're growing, if you're hurting, if it's hard, it's probably because you're growing; growing hurts. And and if it, if it really physically hurts, if you're really, you know, struggling, then, then you're learning something. And I'd say my team is very much in that growth mode right now. And I think the key there, or what I've been learning recently there, is understanding where people are, acknowledging that we're in that growth mode, and recognizing that it's just going to take some time to improve; that it's going to take some time to get better.

Jessica Tietjen 44:42

I think the empathy piece is so critical, is, is you know, connecting to and understanding and meeting people where they are in their journey, but then also calling them up to a level of ownership and accountability. So you know, I don't, you know, let anybody who works with me be in a position of, "Well, I can't," or, "It's impossible," or "There's no way." There is a way; we just haven't figured it out yet. And so we've got to get into that growth mindset; we've got to get into that high level of accountability in order to move things forward.

Jessica Tietjen 45:15

And I think that's probably the most key in these challenging circumstances, because it can be really easy to go negative. And it can be really easy to let, you know, the global pandemic and all the challenges that are going on be an insurmountable hurdle. And if you can, instead look at, How can I overcome that? How can I achieve in spite of that, what can we do to move beyond that? I think that's where you see the results.

Lindsey Spehn 45:42

Incredible. I love the piece you said about growth mindset. You know, that's something that we talk a lot about here on my team, kind of getting through this time, navigating through this time. And for anyone who actually attended our Gallup at Work Virtual Summit this year, if you haven't already, be sure to catch Jessica. She was on the It's the Manager panel. So check that out. I think we still have recordings for if you're watching this here in August 2020, you have it in for a few more weeks here. So be sure to check that out. Jessica, as a coach, how do you stay sharp? What are some of the ways that you kind of stay, you know, "in the mix" with some of the latest and greatest materials, be it Gallup or, you know, anything else?

Jessica Tietjen 46:21

Yeah, so I'm a high Input. So that's one of my strengths. And so I gather information everywhere. I probably have more books. I have a running joke that I have to sneak books into my house or my husband won't let any more come in, because I have such a pile that I want to read. But I, I look at articles, I look at, you know, what's come out most recently, and I kind of scan for lots of information. I rarely actually make it all the way through a book; I often will just pull out the parts that I, that I like, or the parts that are most interesting. But that's really where I probably focus the most. And then continuing to leverage my strengths and keep that certification up.

Jessica Tietjen 47:04

I'm also a an attorney. So I do all of my continual learning for that to keep my, my law license as well and, and keep up on the legal trends, because that's been pretty critical through a lot of this COVID-19 activity as well.

Lindsey Spehn 47:21

Great. As you think about, kind of as a, as a company, what, what's up ahead for you all? So in, in any way, would Gallup tools or science be supporting any of your future efforts at Experitec?

Jessica Tietjen 47:35

Yeah, so I thought about this further. And an area that's of, I think, really critical focus for right now, for us right now is continuing to find ways to really engage with our customers more closely, and drive that customer intimacy. So we're looking pretty, pretty significantly at How can we leverage employees' strengths in pursuit of the customer and in that level of customer intimacy and driving, and driving those, that impact to our customers?

Jessica Tietjen 48:04

We're also very heavy in the, you know, digital transformation, and how do we, you know, connect with our customers more effectively? How do we deliver results for our customers? And so I think, you know, both the research that Gallup puts out on customer engagement, customer intimacy, and trying to really look at each individual person and how they can leverage who they are to serve the customer, to connect with and, and do what we need to do to drive that intimacy I think will be really key for us moving forward. Especially in this digital environment, where we're not, you know, we're not able to call the same way we would on customers. We're typically in manufacturing facilities, and we're, you know, able to be on site a lot. And we've had a lot of challenges, I think, with our sales force, and, and, and our services force, being able to be on site the way that we have historically.

Lindsey Spehn 48:58

And I think, you know, as you talk about kind of the digital resources and tools that you've had at your fingertips, are there any best practices within the Gallup Access tool that you or any other team members have, have used to kind of help you along with those efforts?

Jessica Tietjen 49:13

Yeah, we use the Gallup Access, I think, for sure, the engagement scores and being able to have people see and have visibility to that. I think the managers being able to go in and get some of that customized content that says, you know, based on your scores, look at this, and, and, and or this [Q12] question's low. So what's the information that can help support that? I think is, is pretty helpful. We have not done as much with the the action planning. We do that a little bit more agilely, you know, in our, in our approach and in our discussions. But, but both the strengths piece and the engagement piece in the, the Gallup Access platform have been, been significant for us.

Lindsey Spehn 49:52

Great, thank you. Well, Jim, I'll bring you back into the conversation. Do we have any questions from the chat so far?

Jim Collison 49:59

Yeah, it's been, it's been good out there. I think it's impressive, Jessica, what you have done. I just, as we talk about the hour, there's, there's lots of things to unpack. A couple quick questions. One would be, When you did your very first Q12 assessment, how big of a group was that? And kind of, just kind of how did you approach that? Certainly you didn't go the whole, whole organization at once. So if folks were thinking of jumping in and dabbling into this, how did you guys do it?

Jessica Tietjen 50:23

So we started with just our managers. So that's where we started. And, and part of that was also a question as to whether that should be a, you know, results, who should have visibility to results? So who should get to see those, you know, those scores? And, you know, should the whole organization see them? How would we, how would we deal with them? And the feedback we got from managers early on was, you know, the questions themselves are not about the manager, right? It's not, I trust my manager, or my manager's doing a great job. It's just about where a person is right now.

Jessica Tietjen 50:59

And there was some concern with, you know, people providing, you know, specific information or, you know, who had done it, and, but ultimately, I think people now today really share that. They really share, you know, where they are in terms of engagement with their managers and, and talk about it. But yeah, we started with our managers, but we pretty quickly went from our managers to the whole organization. So --

Jim Collison 51:23

If you had to do that today, would you do it any different?

Jessica Tietjen 51:26

I don't think so. I think it, I think it rolled out quite well. And I think getting the scores, or an initial set of scores before educating employees on it was really key. So employees had taken the engagement survey once, and were looking at their scores when they were learning about the questions, when they were learning about our performance management. So they could really reflect on their answers, they could reflect on, you know, the organizationwide scores and what it meant. And so, so that allowed them to be a little bit more active participants in the, in those discussions.

Jim Collison 52:02

A lot of organizations will do this and leave the sales teams out for whatever reason, they'll just be like, Oh, we'll do this. But sales is different. You guys have, you guys chose to really work this in the sales area. What do you think -- you mentioned a few, but as we think about the key takeaways that you get using it with a sales team, what are the one or two things you just couldn't live without now, knowing what you're getting out of the, you know, the kind of the intel you're getting out of that team?

Jessica Tietjen 52:27

Yeah, well, so we're a sales organization, sales and services. So sales is everything to us. And so our, the engagement of our sales force is probably the most critical to our organization. And we've had challenges there. So early on, there were some engagement challenges. And, you know, sales wasn't necessarily feeling recognized. They're out, you know, with customers, you know, driving results, and, and recognition was a challenge there. So really connecting with them, having more frequent coaching. Our VP of sales is very, very committed to engagement. So he really looks at that, and takes action in his different teams based on that. And we've seen, even with the advent of, especially with the advent of using strengths with sales along with the engagement, we've seen those engagement scores increase significantly, and we saw our sales increase significantly along with it. So for other organizations that have salespeople, I -- you gotta measure it, because, you know, that, that's what can drive those outcomes. That's what's going to drive sales.

Jim Collison 53:36

No, it's a good story. One more question from Mark. He says he's using It's the Manager session as a foundation for my engagement kicking off today! Great insights. So you're speaking to Mark today, as he's getting ready to do this. Along those lines, what kind of advice would you give to a coach, you know, coming into an organization, working with managers? You've done this; maybe they're new to it. What kind of advice would you give them to help them in this journey with managers?

Jessica Tietjen 54:05

I think I would -- my, my best advice would be, again, to meet managers where they are and to not assume that each manager is going to approach engagement, coaching or performance the same way. I think allowing managers to have variance in their style and approach is really important. I'm high Communication, so the way that I manage is by communicating. It's, it's, it's how I do it; I have to be engaged in that way and having those conversations. But there are other managers that really need data. They need, you know, lists -- checklists or, or information to support, you know, their development conversations or their plan with, with people. And I think that that's OK. And I think that that's really key when you're coaching managers.

Jim Collison 54:57

Some good advice. Lindsey, you want to add anything? And then let's thank Jessica for her time here today.

Lindsey Spehn 55:02

Sure, absolutely. No, you know, I wouldn't add anything to that. I mean, hard to top Jessica and her response there. She's, she's the proven exceptional Manager of the Year nominee, for sure. But Jessica, one, just a quick question. And Jim kind of talked about this in relation to strengths and your rollout there. But if there's anything about your journey so far -- think back, you know, 4 or 5 years ago, when all this started with engagement, strengths -- if you knew then what you know now, would you have changed anything else about what you've done?

Jessica Tietjen 55:33

You know, I could probably come up with something. But I really like where we are today. And I think that it being natural and organic, and people buying in as they really believe in it has been a really critical path. So, you know, could I have, could I have gotten people bought in sooner or pushed certain things that are now standard practice for us sooner? You know, one of the things we do is, is outcomes, responsibilities and goals documents around expectations. That's had a big impact in people's understanding of expectations. Could I have forced that sooner? Maybe, but I'm not sure that the results would have been the same because of the buy-in.

Jessica Tietjen 56:19

So I think that our incremental approach has worked really well for us, and proving the concept in smaller groups before, you know, going to the broader organization has been really impactful -- especially our, and I one thing I would say to anybody who's doing this, this type of work is if you have a high-potential group, they are the perfect place to start every time. And start with that group, have them vetted, they'll give you valuable input and feedback before you go to the broad organization. And then the best part is they become advocates. So they become your best, and future leaders who are now bought into it, who've had it the longest, who understand it the most. And, and, and they really, really have an impact. So I, like I said, I could come up with some nitpicky things. But I think I'm really happy with where we are today.

Lindsey Spehn 57:09

I think that's great; it's spot-on. Obviously, it's worked, you know, based on the success that you've had. So, as Jim said, you know, Jessica, thank you so much for joining us today. I think we could go much longer. But we're out of time. Really appreciate you sharing your success story -- both organizationally with you and your fellow leaders and employee owners at Experitec, as well as sharing a little bit more about your management style as a 2020 Manager of the Year nominee. So thank you so much. We're thrilled for your partnership. And with that, Jim, over to you.

Jim Collison 57:38

Thanks, Lindsey, you guys hang tight for a second. Lindsey, how long have you been partnering with them on this?

Lindsey Spehn 57:42

We have been partnering for about 4 years now.

Jim Collison 57:45

And then how long have you been involved on the account?

Lindsey Spehn 57:48

I've been the past 3 years involved.

Jim Collison 57:51

A good, a good chunk of time. Kind of fun for you, right, to see this kind of as we get to kind of promote this and talk about it, it's got to be fun for you to see all these results. Right?

Lindsey Spehn 58:00

You know, it is. But to Jessica's point, it takes, it takes leaders and, you know, great people inside the organization to really make it take flight. You know, we can, we've got all these great tools, but it takes the commitment internally to, to make it happen. So all props to them.

Jim Collison 58:15

Yeah, no, right. I know it fills my bucket just to hear the, just to hear the results. You know, I get to see a lot of companies around the world to do this. And of course, it's always great. So Jessica, thanks for sharing that as well.

Jim Collison 58:25

A couple reminders before we go. If you want to get access to all these resources, they're available on our site. So go to A lot more information on that. If you have a question or you want to partner with us in any way, you can always send us an email: We'll get you routed to the right person to -- maybe it'd be Lindsey; that'd be pretty great to, to be on Lindsey's team. And so you can do that as well. You can listen to us as a podcast. If you haven't subscribed yet, just head out to any podcast player and search "Gallup Webcasts." You'll see all of Gallup's podcasting; we have about 8 of them now, and a new one coming next year. So you'll want to get signed up for those so you're always "in the know." While you're at, sign up for our CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter -- information on what's going on in the community each and every month. And so a great way to stay up to date on that. We'd love to have you in our social communities as well. So Facebook, just head out to, and about 15,000 of us having a conversation. It's pretty busy, but a lot of information is there. And then, if you're not a Facebooker, you can join us on LinkedIn. Just search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches"; don't have to be a trained coach to be there. But ask to be invited in, and I will let you in as well. We want to thank you -- if you joined us live, thank you for joining us live today. If you're listening to the recording, thanks for doing that as well. And let us encourage you to share it. This may be one of those things that you need to share with your manager, your organization to say, "Look, there's some things that we can do here." And so we encourage you, whether on Facebook or as a podcast or whatever, the post to, share it indeed. Thank you for joining us today. With that we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jessica Tietjen's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Communication, Maximizer, Ideation, Input and Strategic.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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