- How did engagement improve when an organization focused on cultivating leader-employee relationships?
- How has this organization been able to keep an engagement focus during the pandemic?
- What steps is it taking to move toward world-class employee engagement, and what have been the benefits?
Employee retention. It's become a hot topic during the pandemic even as the "Great Resignation" has taken hold in the U.S. workforce. How can companies stem the tide of employees who move on to other opportunities? As Alta Resources has found, employee engagement is a key tool in the battle to keep employees because it correlates strongly to employee retention. Join Amy Bouthilet, Vice President of Global Talent at Alta Resources, as she traces Alta's journey toward workplace engagement and the impact this has had on the workplace.
Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 50.
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.
When we made employee engagement a mandate, it's important for us ... as an organization to then say, "So what are [outcome] measures we're going to look at?" And definitely the key one is retention.Amy Bouthilet, 54:53
As we think about coaching our people, we're doing so because we care about them as people -- we care about them personally and we care about them professionally.Amy Bouthilet, 11:26
When you formulate an action plan, formulate it in a way that you make it part of your day to day or week to week.Amy Bouthilet, 39:25
Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on October 21, 2021.
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. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above me there, it'll take you to that. Sign in with your Google account and put your questions there live in chat. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to subscribe to Called to Coach on your favorite podcast app or follow us there on YouTube -- a great way to stay up to date with everything that's going on. Sam Reshel is our host today. Sam is a Regional Manager for Gallup out of our Chicago office -- home today, but out of our Chicago office -- and Sam, great to have you on Called to Coach. Welcome!
Meet Our Guest on This Episode
Sam Reshel 1:05
Thank you so much, Jim. It's a pleasure to be here this morning with you and with everyone on the webcast today. And I am incredibly excited to welcome this morning's guest. So today with us, we have Amy Bouthilet. Amy is the Vice President of Global Talent at Alta Resources, a leading provider of business-related process outsourcing based in Neenah, Wisconsin, which is actually my hometown as well. So lots of little connections there. But Amy has been with Alta Resources for 16 years and has had an incredibly fascinating journey with the organization. So she served in a number of roles, from Trainer to Team Leader to Quality Assurance Manager, Program Director and Group Operations Director. And, you know, before stepping into her Global Talent role, Amy's first exposure to Gallup and to the Q12 was actually as a people-leader or an end user, where she was accountable for driving local engagement with her team.
Sam Reshel 2:09
So I am beyond thrilled to have Amy here with us this morning to share more about her own experiences and to tell Alta Resources' story today, because they have been an incredible partner and have really been able to translate Gallup's engagement science in a compelling and impactful way over the last 4 years. So, Amy, I'd love to have you introduce yourself and set the stage for our listeners around your role and the work that you do at Alta Resources.
Amy Bouthilet 2:38
Thank you, Sam. I'm not sure how I can top such a wonderful intro from yourself. But Hello, good morning, everyone. My name is Amy Bouthilet. And, as Sam mentioned, I'm the Vice President of our Global Talent Team here at Alta Resources. Very new to the role, however -- I actually transitioned into this position around the March time frame of just this current calendar year. So, new to the position but definitely not new to Alta and certainly not new to our engagement initiative here. I've been with the organization, as Sam mentioned, for 16 years and have had the opportunity being both in corporate support roles along with leading some of our largest operations programs here in our Neenah, Wisconsin, location. And interestingly enough, that was the first introduction to both Gallup and engagement, specifically, the Q12 elements.
Amy Bouthilet 3:30
And as I led one of our largest program teams here in our Neenah location, I saw the importance of these action plans, and the way in which we continue to reinforce engagement every day, really start to pay dividends to that program team through retention, through engagement and then through results. So I'm excited to be here today, talk a little bit more about Alta Resources and, and specifically, our engagement journey over the last 4+ years. So thanks for having me.
Sam Reshel 4:04
Thank you, Amy. Again, we're so excited to have you here. And, you know, to start, I'd love if you could take us back 4 years ago and just share a little bit more about, you know, Alta Resources, your business and what led to this initial desire to start measuring employee engagement -- you know, what was going on at that time, and just kind of paint the vision for our listeners this morning.
Why Employee Engagement?
Amy Bouthilet 4:28
Yeah, you bet. So Alta Resources is a business-process outsourcer. So a "BPO" is what we're referred to in the industry. And as we look at Alta Resources' mission, so our mission is to provide resources and create solutions that maximize customer relationships. And what's interesting is, as a BPO, our resources are our people. It's the people that we serve up on these various client teams to our client program partners to take care of their customers. And so about 5 years ago, when we kind of started down the path of the Gallup partnership, it was important to us that we took care of our resources, so our resources would then, in turn, take care of our client customers.
Amy Bouthilet 5:14
And so at the time, we were starting to think about "Why engagement? and then "Why Gallup?" We really wanted to learn from an industry leader in Gallup. We felt like there was a strong cultural alignment between Gallup and Alta. And more importantly, we knew we wanted to focus on employee retention. And we felt the best way to do that was to engage our employees so that they wanted to stay with us. And if they did that, it felt like a no-brainer: A tenured, engaged employee would certainly lead to stronger, better results -- not only for our clients, but our shareholders and just our overall culture.
Sam Reshel 5:52
That's great, Amy. And I love the connection that you made between engagement as well as, you know, several different outcomes that are important to Alta Resources. So you're talking about retention, but also the customer experience -- engagement is such a key driver in that. You know, I'd love to hear from you, as you've gotten familiarized with the Q12, you know, as someone who is leading a team to your role, leading Global Talent now, how has your understanding evolved over time? How has the work you're doing at Alta evolved over time as you get more tenured in your journey with engagement?
Amy Bouthilet 6:26
Yeah, I think it's, it's a great question. And it probably started with just acclimating both myself, but every other leader in the organization, to some of these Gallup survey concepts. And I'll be honest, as you're familiarizing yourself, it feels kind of like a one-time survey. You put an action plan together, but is it truly part of your day-to-day, your week-to-week, you month-to-month, just part of the culture. And I think the biggest evolution that we have seen is now what was maybe considered Gallup 4 or 5 years ago is now just considered part of Alta and part of Alta's culture, which is super exciting. It's still the principles that we've learned from Gallup, but we've definitely made it our own, over the course of our partnership together.
Sam Reshel 7:13
Absolutely. And I think I really want to underscore that point that you just made, Amy, about making it your own. You know, a lot of clients, when they begin their journey with Gallup, you know, it's their first time asking the Q12, their first time getting the data. And where we really start to see some of that transformation is when you take these signs, you take these concepts, and you bring them to life in a way that resonates within the four walls of your organization. And so, you know, there's a number of different ways Alta has done this. I would love to start exploring some of that. When did you start to sense that shift from, OK, this is our first time measuring the Q12 to, This is how we're embedding this into the work that we're doing and the conversations we're having each day within Alta Resources?
Amy Bouthilet 7:57
I would say it probably started with the third survey result. You know, year one was really just getting a baseline and understanding, Where do we go from here? We started to get more comfortable and provided more solid resources, and even toolkits, guidelines, etc., to our leaders. But starting in year three is really where we took so many of the Gallup principles and started to infuse them into our culture. And lots of different examples, I can probably bring up, probably three critical or key ones that I think have made a huge difference. And it started with making employee engagement actually one of our Strategic Mandates. So we have four at Alta Resources, and there's two that are constant, they never change, and two that are rotating, if you will, maybe every 3 to 5 years, depending on what's most important to our organization at that time, where we need to spend our time, our resources, our money, if you will.
Amy Bouthilet 8:56
And employee engagement, 2 years ago, became a Strategic Mandate. And when that happens, it is a focus for everyone within the organization. And that's when tools and resources and investments are made to continue to make it more of part of who we are. So that was probably the first step. And then many other things came as a result of it being a Strategic Mandate. And I think one of the biggest ones is we do annual planning every year where we're finding the right priorities for our organization. And it was based on feedback from our Gallup survey that we saw a huge opportunity to enhance our coaching program at Alta. And so we took an opportunity to really look at the Gallup principles and find those that spoke best to how we wanted our leaders coaching and developing our people moving forward.
The CARE Coaching Model
Amy Bouthilet 9:51
So I'd love to share, actually, a few slides on that, if you don't mind. Perfect, thank you. So you'll see here, employee engagement -- one of our four Strategic Mandates. And if we move to the next slide, we can see here the, the CARE Coaching model came about. And ultimately, the priority started by saying, Look, we want to find something that we can create that will be standard to everyone at Alta. And that was important because we serve different clients. And you can very quickly have so many different coaching programs, based on the client team you are on. And we didn't want that. So we wanted something standardized, but we took it well beyond the standardization and said, We want to differentiate the way we coach at Alta compared to most of our competition, and frankly, compared to most of the industry. And so the premise was, if we work on leaders building strong relationships with their people, the results will come as a result of that. And so that was the primary purpose or objective.
Amy Bouthilet 10:54
And very quickly thereafter, we knew that it was a 4-step process. And it was important to us to have it be an acronym. Not gonna lie, I think the acronym not only is something that's more easily retainable, but definitely something that we can certainly share far more easily to our clients. "CARE" came about as that coaching program, that 4-step process. And what I loved, as that acronym evolved, was that it was the initial and perfect first tie-in back to Gallup. Now, as we think about coaching our people, we're doing so because we care about them as people -- we care about them personally and we care about them professionally. And so if we think of Q5, "My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person," that's the main premise and principle of what our coaching program is all about.
Sam Reshel 11:48
Amy Bouthilet 11:50
If we go a little further and talk about the actual 4-step process, the "C" stands for "Communicate"; it's about communicating by building a relationship and also communicating results. And if we do that well, we feel like we're already going to see improvements in Q1, which is probably that most basic level of need, from an engagement perspective: "I know what's expected of me at work." The, the "A" in care is "Assess." This is about our coaches, our leaders, asking the right questions, so that our coachees are the ones self-discovering where they're strong, where their strengths are, but also where their opportunities are. And when that is done well, and it's a true collaboration and conversation, they're going to feel like someone at work is encouraging their development, not bringing them into the principal's office to say, "You should have done this" or "You didn't do that." And that's the part of the industry where we want coaching to have a complete and total differentiator.
Amy Bouthilet 12:49
The "R" stands for "Resolve." This is a true brainstorm and collaboration. Now that we know maybe where some opportunities are, what roadblocks can we help remove out of the way? How can we support you best to turn that opportunity into a strength? And this is about making a long list. And when we do that well, well guess what: At work, my opinions start to seem to count. Because I'm taking the feedback of that coachee and weaving it into the action plan we're now going to put together, which is a tie-in to the "E" in "CARE" -- the Execute. That is all about creating an action plan and really making sure that every coaching conversation now builds off of the last. We don't want to, each time we connect with someone, have it be the flavor of the day or the week or the month. Each conversation should build off of the last. And when that is done effectively, if we think Q11, it really starts to feel like we're talking about progress and improvement, and not just an area of opportunity for them to focus in on each time we connect.
Amy Bouthilet 13:55
Last but not least, as we think "cadence of CARE Coaching," it was important to us that we stressed, At a minimum, please connect with your people one time a week. And that was a direct influence from, from Gallup, as we think Q4. You know, the question says, "In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise." We've really touted that in the organization, from an affirmation perspective. If you connect with your people at least one time every 7 days -- every week for us, you are showing that individual that they matter, that they bring value. You're affirming how important they are to the team. And so that was the, the background, if you will, or the baseline for our minimum expectations of one time a week. But no doubt we are encouraging daily check-ins, because we know that builds trust and credibility, which just helps that relationship form even that much faster.
Amy Bouthilet 14:52
And I think, you know, last but not least, from a CARE Coaching perspective, it was our belief before we rolled this out last year that if we follow the model, the engagement will come as a result. And with engagement, as I mentioned, before, it becomes, comes that tenure, that employee retention starts to increase and thrive. And the tenured, engaged employees leads to our, what we call client key performance indicators or KPIs. And we have seen this ring true, not only in engagement, but retention results have been the best they've ever been, along with really strong KPIs back to all of our client partners, which is great to see.
Sam Reshel 15:34
That's incredible, Amy! And, you know, I, what I love about the CARE Coaching model is, you know, there's a couple things. So of course, you know, we're weaving engagement into the conversations, and we're setting expectations that we should be having these conversations every single day at work. And our research shows, people are really looking for their people-leaders to make that transition from boss to coach, and this model is such a great way for all those people-leaders to help understand, How do I drive the most impact out of those conversations that I'm having, to ultimately set my team up for performance? So I think that is an incredible way that Alta Resources has really made this science come to life. I'm curious to learn, you know, what was the process of, you know, getting your managers comfortable with working through this coaching model? And, you know, getting them bought into, "This helps us perform." You know, engagement is a performance strategy, ultimately, and this is how we at Alta Resources do it?
Amy Bouthilet 16:31
Yeah, it's a great question. So I think there's a few different answers. And I'll kind of share them based on the evolution and/or the steps that we took in order. For probably, since the beginning of our Gallup partnership, we have made employee engagement, and our Gallup results and what we want to do about them a full day in our annual Leadership Summit. And this is bringing in all leaders, all the way down to that team-lead level, who are leading our front-line employees across the board. And so as we think CARE Coaching and the rollout of, that was done in a full day of Leadership Summit. And outside of just training them on the strategy, and ultimately the steps and how to do them most effectively, there was a pretty large background, to really answer the "Why" first.
Amy Bouthilet 17:21
And so we showcased, not only our Gallup results, but also the feedback we got from so many employees and explained why coaching became an organizational priority, and why we are enhancing it, and frankly, why now. So I think taking that time, first and foremost, and spending an entire day rolling out CARE coaching. We brought an external leadership consultant in, Max Brown, to really help us even further illustrate the power behind coaching and coaching well. So that was really Step 1.
Amy Bouthilet 17:56
Step 2, as we tried to then really make it part of our culture, is we do something now on a monthly basis. They're called our CARE Coaching report-outs. So each month, we spotlight various program teams, and the leader comes in and talks about things like the CARE model adherence, their engagement results and/or feedback, along with attrition and some of those key client KPIs I had mentioned before. But then what we do is we take it a step further, and we allow a team leader to do a coachee spotlight. So they talk about the elements of CARE, what they implemented with a particular individual, and the results and/or the outcomes that have come as a result of that. And I think doing that every month, senior leaders are there listening to the stories, continuously reinforcing from the top down, but we're hearing from the bottom up how much this is making a difference. And that's just sharing of best practices, at the same time as someone's getting an opportunity to really share a spotlight.
Sam Reshel 19:00
Absolutely. I mean, it's such a high-impact activity. You're providing that recognition that we know is important; you're highlighting best practices that are taking place within Alta Resources that everyone can learn from. So, I mean, I can see where that certainly is a great opportunity to continue building on these concepts and communicating to the organization what this looks like when it's done really effectively.
Amy Bouthilet 19:25
Evolution of Alta Resources' Engagement Strategy
Sam Reshel 19:26
So I'm curious, you know, you've had a couple of measurements now. And I think if you look at the trajectory of Alta's engagement journey, you can really even see in the measurement where this CARE model took off. Could you talk a little bit about that and how your engagement strategy has evolved over time as, you know, now we measured, now we have this CARE model. This is what we're doing going forward as well around engagement?
Amy Bouthilet 19:50
Yeah, for sure. And, you know, I'll tie it back first off to the fact that I think the CARE coaching was the first, what I'll call "organizational solution" that we implemented. And what I mean by that is prior to that, as we kind of started off with our Gallup journey taking baby steps, it was really about each individual leader and team putting those personalized and customized action plans together, which, in all honesty, are still really valuable and really important. But this was the first time where we then added on to, in addition to the individualized team action plans, we were rolling something out organizationally, or organizationalwide, which I think really did have a nice impact.
Amy Bouthilet 20:36
And before I jump maybe right into the results, I think it's an interesting point to make that we rolled this out in early March of 2020 -- the CARE Coaching, that is, and if anyone knows anything about March of 2020, that is when our whole world turned upside down. The pandemic became a very serious and pertinent thing within our, within our globe, frankly -- I almost said country, but let's be honest: It was a global pandemic. And the way in which we were doing work, and the way in which our working environment looked, changed significantly.
Amy Bouthilet 21:17
I'm grateful we rolled out CARE when we did, because it gave individuals the tools to learn how to continue to coach, even though our environment was changing. Within one month's time, we had 3,500 employees that went from working in the office all the time to everyone being at home -- in one month. That was a huge shift for us. And it was also right around the time where our action plans would be getting created. So you can only imagine things took a little bit of a back seat for a while, while we were just figuring things out.
A Successful "Restart" During the Pandemic
Amy Bouthilet 21:52
But a really cool thing that then happened in the April-May time frame as we all started to collect ourselves again, and realized, This is our new normal, and we need to figure it out: My predecessor actually led leaders through an opportunity to create an action plan through something that we call the Restart program. And the Restart program was look, we typically would all have action plans that we were well underway with by this point in time, but the, the world had a different idea in store. And so the good news is, since many of us did not have an action plan put in place yet, we can act now; we can restart now.
Amy Bouthilet 22:32
And honestly, the "Restart" word came from the fact of what maybe was true 2 months ago is very different now, in lieu of the pandemic, in lieu of our new environment. So we looked at a Gallup article that was called, "Is Your Culture Resilient Enough to Survive Uncertain Times?" And we really encouraged our leaders to create action plans off of two different principles or two different elements only. And I think that was the second thing that we did truly organizationally.
Amy Bouthilet 23:00
So here's a CARE Coaching rollout program. And now let's all really spearhead our action plans to two primary focus areas, based on the, the environment, excuse me, that we're in now. And I think both of those actions is what's really led to a big, significant change in results. And if you don't mind, I'd like to just share a visual that I think helps tell that story a little bit more. So if we can pull that back up. This has been the Alta journey. And I think there's two different conversations here, starting with the participation. And I think we all know, participation in general is already an indicator of engagement. And we were thrilled that during the course of the most uncertain times, we rallied, and we rallied through CARE Coaching, and we rallied through that Restart program that I just mentioned. And that alone led to a 12-point lift in employee participation on the survey alone, from 2020 to 2021, as seen there.
Amy Bouthilet 24:06
We are now at an 87% participation, which we were thrilled with. We thought anything over 80 would be stellar, and already got to that 87%. And I think what's even cooler than that is that we had the most number of people participate in last year's survey and had the best year, from an engagement perspective. We are now at a 4.2, from a GrandMean perspective, and our journey started at a 3.89. So we knew each year, as we were making lifts, we were moving in the right direction. But the lift we saw just in the last year alone, I think was really driven by those two truly organizational solutions that were added in addition to those personalized team action plans.
Amy Bouthilet 24:52
And then, last but not least, from a results perspective, I think this is probably the one that a lot of us at Alta sit back and smile about the most, as we think engagement ratio. And so for every highly engaged individual, then what is the highly disengaged? We are now at a 10:1, and that is a, that is a huge lift from where we even just were a year ago, at a 5:1. So we've doubled that. We're past that best practice of demonstrated engagement excellence. And I can assure you, we are now striving toward that world-class line, to get to that 14:1, and a lot of great momentum started and a lot of different ideas for how we can continue to move this forward.
Sam Reshel 25:40
This is incredible, Amy! I mean, this is I remember, when we got Alta Resources' results back, this was such a great development to see. So again, for our listeners, the number of engaged employees at Alta Resources is 10 for every 1 actively disengaged employee. And so if you think about what it feels like to show up to work every single day in an environment where every 10 people you interact with are highly invested in the organization's success -- they are giving that discretionary effort -- it becomes very easy to understand the power that that holds in ultimately helping us innovate and drive our organization forward.
Sam Reshel 26:16
And what I love about the journey you just shared, we say at Gallup a lot, "Engagement does not happen overnight." You take your first measurement; you get your baseline; and then the ultimate goal is to see consistent, sustainable progress over time. And I think the data you just shared, in complement with the actions that you've taken at Alta Resources to drive this within your organization, is such a great example that, of what can be possible with that consistent, intentional effort around engagement within your organization. So I love that data. And then one thing I did want to ask you about, too, with that Restart program, for those who aren't familiar with the article, could you share a little bit more about the specific needs that you were focused on during that Restart time? I think that, you know, a lot of client organizations were in a similar situation where they completely had to change how they work. So I'd love if you could share a little bit more about specifically what you're focused on, and how that helped support that transition.
Amy Bouthilet 27:20
Yeah, you bet. I'm just trying to refine the -- here we go. So I think, ultimately, there were several different factors. But as I look at -- and I'm just trying to pull up; my apologies here --
Sam Reshel 27:34
That's OK. And for those who aren't familiar with the article, it was an article related, excuse me, written by our Senior Scientist Dr. Jim Harter. And he basically outlined, within our research, what are the key drivers of engagement during times of disruption, during times of uncertainty? And so Alta used those as the foundation for this Restart program.
Jim Collison 27:59
Sam, I put the link to that article in the chat. So for folks that are listening on YouTube, they can bring it up that way as well. So -- Did you find it, Amy?
Amy Bouthilet 28:09
I didn't. I'm sorry. I'm just trying to pull up here. My sincere apologies.
Sam Reshel 28:23
So then, while Amy pulls that up, too, I know you all have the article. But the specific items that, that our research shows are going to be Q1, "I know what's expected of me at work"; Q2, "I have the materials and equipment that I need to do my work well"; Q3, "I have the opportunity to do what I do best every single day"; Q8, "The mission and purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important"; and then Q9, "My coworkers are committed to doing quality work." So, you know, you can imagine how all of that really plays a role when you're thinking completely differently about how and where you do work.
Amy Bouthilet 29:01
Awesome. Yeah, thank you, Sam, for, for buying me a little time here.
Sam Reshel 29:04
Amy Bouthilet 29:05
The two primary questions that we did focus in, in lieu of the article -- and it was really that shift of kind of working from home -- the first one was that, "At work, my opinions seem to count," right? So we're, we're shifting environment. You're working in a different world. Let's learn from you and get your feedback on how we can do that better. And so there was a really concerted effort of taking that feedback in and finding ways of, of making the working environment that much more effective.
Amy Bouthilet 29:34
And then the second one was Q8, "The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important." We really ... be honed in on the mission; made sure they understood, Look, you are the resources that we now are really trying to showcase to our clients to improve those customer relationships. And how are all of us living that mission each day? And how can we help benefit that mission more? So action plans really focused around Q7 and/or Q8, and we saw lifts in both of those of almost the .30 improvement year-on-year in lieu of those action plans.
Sam Reshel 30:14
That's incredible. And you know, I think, too, you touched upon it as well, but I'd love if you could share a little bit more. You know, you mentioned turnover reduced, but and even amidst the disruption, Alta Resources had an incredible year. So I would love if you could just share, you know, the impact that you've seen, especially in 2020 to 2021, in terms of your business as well.
Amy Bouthilet 30:38
Yeah, from a retention perspective, we have seen just significant improvement. We've had our lowest attrition percent, probably in a very long time. Now, we certainly are patting ourselves on the back and saying so much of the work that we've done from an engagement perspective played a big role. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I think some of that flexibility with work-from-home did help as well. But listen, that the work-from-home was, was different. And we understood, in many cases, we had employees that, outside of talking to the customers that they worked with every day, they were very isolated. And so I think we really realized quickly how we had to take those engagement principles and make them opportunities each and every day that much more than when folks were in the office and those things were happening, happening organically --excuse me.
Amy Bouthilet 31:30
So, you know, yes, the work-from-home flexibility, I think, led to some really strong results from a retention perspective. But had we not had that Gallup foundation, and had we not already rolled out the CARE Coaching, it could have backfired pretty, pretty significantly, because folks would not have felt cared for; would not have had those relationships formed; would not feel like their opinions mattered. And we could have seen something very different. So I do feel like, you know, the stars aligned for us. And a lot of, a lot of the steps that we've taken over the course of the last few years made us that much more ready for this pandemic and changing the way in which we work. And we've had great results as a result of.
Maximizing the Engagement Momentum
Sam Reshel 32:17
Absolutely. Yeah, and I mean, I think engagement is really a measure of how hard and fast people can run towards the organization's goals. And, you know, one thing I love about the partnership with Alta Resources is, you know, you're always striving for, How can we continue to maximize on this, capitalize on this momentum? What's next for us? And so, I'd love if you could talk a little bit, now that you're in kind of the fourth/fifth year of your journey, what are you focused on now? You've rolled out this brilliant model; people have taken to it; and you're really starting to see the dividends of engaging your people in the work that you're doing. What's next, in terms of engagement, but also Alta Resources that you're really aiming that engagement at?
Amy Bouthilet 33:01
Yeah, it's a great question. And I think there's a few different things. I will start with the fact that this was our first year where we rolled out the pulse survey. And we did so through this Accountability Index. So prior to this year, our kind of gauge for whether or not we were really making the progress we wanted to before the next rollout of our annual Q12 survey was ensuring that our leaders were logging action plans into the database. And it was a nice kind of initial indicator. But just because an action plan is put into a database does not mean that it's actually happening and being reinforced throughout the organization.
Amy Bouthilet 33:41
So what I loved specifically about the Accountability Index that we utilized for the pulse survey this year is we were able to get direct employee feedback and really receive data-driven results to say, How are we truly doing? And we not only looked at that organizationally, but we were able to look at that obviously by leader. So when we did that back in June, we got those results. And we once again rolled out the results, along with, more importantly, What are we going to do about them? in a virtual leadership summit-style event. So we shared the results. We talked about the fact that look, our engagement program is all about leadership development and leadership education. It's not a measurement initiative. Yes, these are numbers. Yes, these are results, if you will.
Amy Bouthilet 34:33
But the big thing here is that we all collectively say, "Now that we see what we see, what are we going to do about it?" And we did take an opportunity to really tier the pulse survey results, to give somewhat of some guided direction back to our leaders. So depending on where they fell within that Accountability Index result perspective, it was either, Hey, keep doing what you're doing. You might want to make some tweaks to your action plan, and/or you maybe just want to start back from the beginning, bring your team back together, talk about your Gallup Q12 result, and then make sure that the action plan you have in play is really still the right one, because maybe your team's turned, right? Maybe the team you had back in January is different now. And that's OK. But the, the opportunity there was to give individuals some really concrete ideas, examples, best practices, so they can now act as a result of those pulse survey results.
Amy Bouthilet 35:33
We do plan to do one more pulse survey on that Accountability Index here in November, to give us kind of one final pulse check, if you will, before we do end the calendar year, and then move into the new year with the new Q12 Gallup survey. So I think that's a big thing. Getting that pulse check, if you will, has been, in my opinion, life changing, for now seeing results and knowing, more importantly, what to do about them.
Sam Reshel 36:01
I think --
Amy Bouthilet 36:02
Go ahead, please.
Sam Reshel 36:03
No, I was gonna just say, for those who aren't familiar with the Accountability Index, it's available within Gallup Access. But it basically asks, Did employees receive feedback on their company's overall results? Did they talk with their team about their results? And did they make progress on the action plans that they put together as a result of those state-of-the-team conversations? And I'll just note that that last item, that progress item, has almost a perfect correlation to growth and engagement between administrations. So, you know, if you think about, to your point, Amy, what's a good way to gut-check and understand, Are we having the right conversations? Are we doing the right things instead of just waiting until the next administration? Those items are very intentionally designed to do exactly what you said: empower you with the information to say, How are we doing? What's going well? How can we refine to continue to drive impact with our teams?
Amy Bouthilet 36:58
Yeah, that's a great point. And I'll just add to that, that I think what we saw, and as we looked at our results, compared to that of the entire Gallup database, it looks like what we saw is not very uncommon, which is really high scores, if you will, in the first two. So we started the year with guns a-blazing. Right? We met with our teams. We shared our results. We put action plans together. And then the results started to fizzle a little bit with that element of reinforcement and progress on that action plan.
Amy Bouthilet 37:30
And I think it's probably a very common phenomenon in organizations, as other things come into view, as plates get full. Does this fall to the back burner? Which we don't want it to. And I think that pulse check, and that Accountability Index result, by seeing those results -- seeing the feedback, if you will, from our people, it was a big eye opener of, This cannot just be a one-time-a-year event. And we need to continue to find ways to reinforce throughout the year, and again, gave a lot of different suggestions and/or best practices for ways to do that.
Sam Reshel 38:11
Absolutely. And, you know, Amy, I mentioned this earlier, but I love your story within Alta Resources of being someone who -- a leader who got a report and was expected to go talk to their team about it, to now leading Global Talent. Could you talk a little bit about some of those learnings that you had early on around those "Aha! Oh, my gosh, this is actually how this makes sense and adds value to my team," and maybe some insights that our partners can leverage to help their managers and their people-leaders make those connections around engagement and team performance?
Amy Bouthilet 38:46
Yeah, great question. I think the biggest Aha! for me was ways to just infuse it in to who we are as a company, who we are as a team and what we just do as leaders and team members every single day. Engagement shouldn't feel like an initiative, like we're doing this for just X amount of time, if you will. And so, not only myself, as I kind of led a team and created my own action plan, but now as I work with these other people-leaders -- I liked that title, Sam, so I'm going to use that -- but as I work with these other people-leaders in the organization, when you formulate an action plan, formulate it in a way that you make it part of your day to day or week to week.
Amy Bouthilet 39:32
So a perfect example is, depending on which engagement principle you really want to focus in on, how do you make that part of your weekly team meeting or your monthly newsletter or your everyday "Good morning!" Teams chat to your group, as you kind of kick the day off. And the fact of the matter is, when you do that, it literally just becomes a part of who the team is.
Amy Bouthilet 40:01
And the one thing I will say about that, though, is it can become so commonplace that you don't want the team to forget that this was the conscious effort that we all made to do to improve engagement. So those check-ins become really, really powerful as well. "Hey, 3 months ago, we said, 'Let's try this.' We've been doing it now for 3 months; I almost forgot it was something that we've never done before. How is it working?" So that you're making sure that people understand that we decided to do this as a team. Is it the right thing? And if it is, let's complete this action plan and start down another path of making something else part of who we are as a team moving forward as well. So that's been the most helpful, and I hope the way I can start helping additional people-leaders in the organization, now that I'm leading the Global Talent area.
Sam Reshel 40:51
Absolutely, yeah. And I think something that, you know, we say to our clients, too, is when you're getting that feedback, and you're taking it and you're implementing it, absolutely circle back to that. You know, you don't have to be humble around these changes that you're making. People want to know that their feedback was heard; they want to be able to share how it's going. And so I love what you said around, you know, calling it back, circling back and saying, "How are we doing? Is this right? If so, let's look at the next thing. Let's continue to raise the bar on what we're doing and how we're doing it within Alta Resources.
Amy Bouthilet 41:25
Absolutely. And even just to add to that, I think another big, fun best practice that came out as a result of the pulse survey results we saw back in June is also doing that as new employees enter the organization. And so, as we give them the Gallup overview and talk about how important -- important, excuse me, this partnership is, but more importantly, how important engagement is to Alta, why we measure it, etc. We are having teams make sure that they are sharing the solutions that they've rolled out. So twofold. "Hey, that food cart that you see every Friday? That came as a result of Gallup feedback. And oh, by the way, we took that feedback to heart and made this now just a part of how our team operates. So when that survey comes around next time, and you have an opportunity to participate in it, please do, and please be candid. Because the feedback actually matters." And so that's been another big win, I think, for us as we actually just introduce engagement and Gallup to all of the folks that start new in the organization as well.
Sam Reshel 42:32
Absolutely. Jim, you popped in. Did you have a comment on something?
Leaders and CARE Coaching
Jim Collison 42:37
I did. Well, and we, we're getting some questions from the chat room, which I, which I think are important that we get to in a little bit. And Lisa asks this, and Amy, this one's for you. Let me, let me go back to this mode so we can see it. When you talk about your managers, how many people do your managers tend to lead in the org? Is it very, what other kind of responsibilities they have? And, Was there any resistance to this, as you, as you kind of rolled it out among the leaders?
Amy Bouthilet 43:04
So many good questions there. So I'm going to focus on probably our primary group of leaders which, to us, they are called our team leaders. And they are the individuals managing all of our frontline amazing customer service and sales associates throughout the organization. Our typical ratio would be about a 1:15. Some might be a little, little bit lower than that, but we really try not to go above that, for obvious reasons. Creating relationships takes time. And if it gets much higher than that, you can certainly, you know, start to feel like you don't have enough of it. I think that was, as we talk "time," the biggest resistance, especially as we rolled out the CARE Coaching program: "I don't have enough time, enough hours, if you will, in the day to possibly connect with every single person, every single week."
Amy Bouthilet 43:57
And the coolest possible thing that could have ever happened is we rolled this out in our Neenah, Wisconsin, location first. And within probably the first month or two, the sheer amount of leaders who reached back out to my predecessor and myself -- because we rolled out the CARE Coaching program together -- was, "I actually have more time. Now that I am proactively scheduling time with my people, they know they're going to meet with me every week. So there aren't the 20 fire drills every single day. In addition, we've built such a strong relationship that in many ways I've developed them to problem-solve, critical-think and/or figure out the situation themselves."
Amy Bouthilet 44:40
So I got goose bumps again, just saying that, because that was music to my ears. It was exactly what we thought and truly anticipated. But you never know if it's going to have that type of an impact, especially that quickly. And it was literally no more than 2 months when the rollout happened of "Wow, I have more time now. But I'm devoting more time to my people; imagine that!"
Sam Reshel 45:03
I love that, Amy. And I would just underscore that point: Our research shows that, you know, managers spend a certain number of hours coaching every single week. But it's really the content of those coaching conversations that translates to the value that provides in that feedback for employees. And so, if you can spend 1 hour talking about the right things, versus 5 hours talking about the wrong things, that can drive a ton of impact, in terms of how much time you're spending; how people are able to do their jobs. And I think that is such a great example of that research coming to life too.
Amy Bouthilet 45:38
Yeah, great point.
Jim Collison 45:39
Lisa brings another great question in. You know, we think about the 5 Steps of Becoming a Strengths-Based Culture, executive sponsorship, leadership from the C level is very, very important in that. Can you talk a little bit about your executive sponsorship in rolling that out? John had also kind of asked a question in chat about, Did you burst that out? Was it literally 100% from Day 1; was it tiered in some way? So can you talk maybe to those two questions?
Amy Bouthilet 46:04
Sure. So executive sponsorship on Gallup and engagement holistically? Is that the question, or is it -- ?
Jim Collison 46:13
Yeah, can you -- here; I'll just put that back up. Can you talk a little bit about executive sponsorship for rolling this out? How did they support it?
Amy Bouthilet 46:20
OK, perfect. I'm going to answer that a few different ways, if that's OK. And I want to start back with, first off, just with our Gallup partnership to begin. When we began our partnership with Gallup, we not only had our executives but also really that kind of high level, first tier of leadership at Alta go through the StrengthsFinder. So everyone kind of bought into Gallup, from a standpoint of learning about strengths, which I think is critical to then learning about engagement, frankly, and understanding how everyone is a little bit different, unique. So don't lead, coach, manage or recognize the way that you want to; learn more about your people, and then obviously play to their strengths. So that was the first thing.
Amy Bouthilet 47:08
I would say by Year 2, making employee engagement a Strategic Mandate ultimately meant that everyone was bought in. So that played a huge role as well. And then, thirdly, as we rolled out CARE Coaching, we do an annual planning retreat each year to identify, you know, the maybe top 5 to 8 priorities that we're going to work on as an organization. And I can assure you, there's probably 800 that get fed through as needs, and then it's up to kind of that senior leadership group to determine what the top 10, at most, will be. And it was through the feedback from Gallup that we all collectively chose CARE Coaching. So there was buy-in for it being an organizational priority, which meant the resources, the time, the commitment, the investment were there.
Amy Bouthilet 47:59
So hopefully that answers the question. I think it was a phased approach. But we always got their buy-in along the way, because of decisions we made organizationally to either, you know, roll something out at a summit; make it a mandate; and/or make it an organizational priority, if you will.
Jim Collison 48:15
And first Q12 was 100% of the organization?
Amy Bouthilet 48:19
That is correct. Yes.
Lessons Learned, Spreading the Engagement Passion
Jim Collison 48:20
All right. All right. Perfect. OK, last question from the chat room. And I'm going to ask this to both of you, since you both worked on this. What'd you learn from this process? Anything you'd have done differently early on, as you look back and say -- you know, and those are always dangerous questions, because you can't go back and fix it. But think of it in these terms of, are there things you learned that you're, you want to implement now moving forward, to continue to improve the process?
Amy Bouthilet 48:47
Well, sure, you know, I'm gonna, I'm going to give you the corny answer first, which is, I think the journey was what the journey needed to be. I really do believe that, is that had we done something maybe different or better early on, would we have learned as much from it and grown as a result? I don't know. So there's my PC answer. But I do, I do really believe that. But I think a couple of things that I will say is, I do think the implementing that pulse survey maybe a little sooner in our journey could have been helpful, to take different action maybe faster, sooner, as a one.
Amy Bouthilet 49:27
Two, I do think these, the organizational rollouts are super critical. So that we organizationally are showing our leaders support by giving them additional tools and resources. So I wouldn't say that we should have done that sooner. But I definitely know that that's something that we want to continue to do moving forward. And then the last thing I will say that is definitely in our roadmap for this next year: Alta Resources is a global organization. We got 5 sites: 3 domestically, one offshore in our Manila, Philippines, location and one near shore in Belize City, Belize. Different cultures, different sites, different leaders. So we are tossing around the idea of having Engagement Champions at each site to really help us fuel the engagement culture there and help us live, breathe.
Amy Bouthilet 50:26
You know, I'm one person. And I think very early on, we realized we needed an engagement owner. So my predecessor was the owner, and now myself, and I think that's a really smart thing. But being one person in one location, how do you spread that energy, that passion, that, that wealth across the board? So I am really looking forward to that concept, because I think that can take off and help us continue to drive the momentum forward.
Jim Collison 50:54
Amy, I understand the single-person concept. As we started the webcasts here at Gallup, you know, it was just me doing this. And now we have 6 in language, right, around the world. I'm, we're bringing in Sam as part of this team to come in and to kind of make it wider, right. And that, that, you get, you get more stability that way; you get more sustainability that way; you get kind of more buy-in when you do it. And so, so good for you. Sam, do you want to add anything to that? You've, you've been monitoring this from the outside, as a good consultant from the outside coming in. Anything else you'd add to that?
Sam Reshel 51:32
You know, Amy said it so beautifully. I think I would reiterate everything she shared. And I said it before in today's session as well. But just the way that Alta has made all of this their own. I mean, I cannot emphasize enough how impactful that is, and the success of embedding it into your culture. You know, certainly we know the best organizations make this part of who they are, how they do work. It's not a Gallup thing; it's not an episodic thing. It is who we are at this organization and how we do business. And so I think some of the really creative and strategic and impactful ways Alta has done that is definitely something that, you know, looking back, we can encourage our clients to do more of.
Sam Reshel 52:19
And to Amy's point, that Accountability Index, I think sometimes, especially at the beginning of an engagement journey, there's maybe a little bit of hesitation around How are we holding people accountable? You know, what is the messaging going to be around that? And so, to Amy's point, the sooner we can do that in a way where it's, you know, Let's just do a gut check and make sure we're having the right conversations and that we're maximizing on this information. Let's do that sooner rather than later, so that we can start seeing those gains as soon as possible. And so yeah, I mean, those are some learnings I had. But I mean, it's been such a pleasure working with the Alta team and just learning from the, the work that they've been able to do. It's, it's really been an honor and impressive to watch.
Jim Collison 53:02
Well, I do hundreds of these, and I get inspired each time I do it. It's always great to hear the story. Amy, any, anything we might have missed or anything that you want to highlight, as we think just in the last few minutes before we wrap this up? And Sam, I'll say any additional questions for you. But, Amy, anything else you want to add to this?
Amy Bouthilet 53:21
Gosh, so much, probably. But, you know, I need to, in turn, thank Sam and Gallup holistically for the partnership. I think the way in which our cultures aligned made it for a great start to a partnership, if you will. But just all of the help and the support that you have provided throughout the course of the last 4 years is definitely a huge reason we've seen the progress that we've seen. So it's gone a long way, for sure. And we're just getting started. So --
Jim Collison 53:52
Great to hear. Sam, anything else you want to add?
Sam Reshel 53:55
Yeah, I would just emphasize that and express excitement for what's next for Alta Resources. I think it's been so incredible to watch the evolution throughout 2020 and 2021. And we're excited to continue partnering with you going forward. And thank you for sharing your time and insights today as well. I think a lot of our listeners will benefit.
Jim Collison 54:17
Amy, just one question on the way out. When we think about success -- I get this question all the time -- as you look ahead for the next 6 months to a year, how do you know, or how will you know? Is there a metric or two that you're going to look for to kind of know you're going to be successful? What, what's that mark for you? And what are you looking for?
Amy Bouthilet 54:36
It's actually a great question for us. So we've got 7 guiding principles at Alta Resources, and the top one is results. So I know that as my predecessor and Sam have even worked together, we're constantly saying, "You know what, what then justifies to say this was successful or not?" When we made employee engagement a mandate, it's important for us as a culture, as an organization to then say, "So what are measures we're going to look at?" And definitely the key one is retention. The opposite of that is attrition, right? So we want to continue to see that drop. Especially as we think of the labor market right now, retaining these valuable employees couldn't be maybe more important now than ever. So that's definitely a big one. And we do feel the way that we retain them is by creating this engagement culture.
Amy Bouthilet 55:25
And so we do look at seeing lifts, not only in our GrandMean but our engagement ratio. And my predecessor set the bar for the results we saw as this year kicked off, so no pressure. Those are definitely going to be, you know, steps we keep taking to see, you know, a highly significant change year on year in that GrandMean and in that engagement ratio perspective. And I think those two features alone are probably where we really focus our time and energy to say that, "Yes, we're successful." But all of that does lead to much stronger productivity and quality results as we look across the board for the work that we're doing on behalf of our clients. And that obviously just becomes an additional win, as we think success long-term.
Jim Collison 56:16
Well, that's, that's always good to hear. I think we've got to continue to focus on those targets that we want to hit, keep those in mind, drive towards them, and then really experience it together. Right, get it through, it, it sounds like you have an experience program where folks are doing it together, kind of in the context of both through the leadership from the top down and from the organization from the bottom up. So --
Amy Bouthilet 56:37
Jim Collison 56:38
Amy, thanks for taking the time today to be a part of this, and I appreciate it. Sam, thank you for, for bringing Alta Resources to us and, and for this time together. And we know you're busy over the next couple of weeks, but we'll look forward to having you back on Called to Coach with the next one as well. So thanks for doing that, Sam. Appreciate it.
Sam Reshel 56:55
Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Amy.
Jim Collison 56:56
With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage -- you guys don't leave; don't go anywhere. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available. Amy mentioned a bunch of these; you can find a lot of them there through Gallup Access. Go to gallup.com/cliftonstrengths and log in. And in a lot of those resources available for you there. If you're interested in coaching, master coaching and you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, send us an email: email@example.com. We'll get that set up for you. If you want to follow these webcasts, just go out to gallup.eventbrite.com. Follow us there; you get a notification every time we do something new. Of course, you can follow us on any social platform just by searching "CliftonStrengths." And if you found this helpful -- and you should have found this one very helpful today -- we'd ask that you'd share it out on the platforms: LinkedIn, Facebook, whatever works for you. Get that thing shared, and we appreciate it as well. For those listening live, thanks for joining us today. And for those listening to the recording, thanks for listening. We'll see you back here next time. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.
Samantha Reshel's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Woo, Communication, Discipline and Positivity.
Amy Bouthilet's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Arranger, Woo, Communication and Competition.