Learn from Team Sky’s “Aggregation of Marginal Gains”
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Team Sky is the one of world’s top cycling teams. Just last week they placed first and third in the Tour de France. With cycling superstars like Christopher Froome, Thomas Geraint, and Egan Bernal, how can they not be considered the best of the best?
The way the team approaches everything, from hand washing to the best bus to recuperate, nicknamed The Death Star, defines their success. Each minimal change shaves milliseconds off riders’ time, creating a seemingly unstoppable team. General Manager Sir Dave Brailsford has become the Knight of Details. He says, “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”
What looks like nit-picking has become an enviable vision of success. And though it’s not a new idea, Team Sky has managed to perfect it organization-wide. Nothing, nothing is taken for granted.
How can this translate to big corporations or small businesses? Imagine taking each process, each product, each interaction with employees and/or customers and putting them under a microscope. What we often brush off as inconsequential can add up to incredibly effective ways to work or, the contrary, obstacles and frustrations that can break down engagement and production.
Here are 7 inexpensive, easy-to-follow tips to improve employee engagement through the aggregation of marginal gains:
1. Fix the copy machine! Keep software updated. Ensure your internet connection is fast and reliable. Make sure chairs are ergonomic and your employees aren’t straining their backs. Small annoyances add up over a period of time. They can increase absenteeism and cut into the bottom line. When employees face obstacle-after-obstacle, their production lowers as does their engagement.
2. Create a strong Communication Strategy: Employees often grumble about feedback famines – being the last to know. Sometimes big changes blindside employees, so they end up feeling left out and that their role is inconsequential. There is no excuse for this. Communication should be multi-directional and use various mediums. Connect with your employees.
3. Create a healthy work environment. Follow and enforce occupational health practices. Take out the vending machines and provide healthier snack options. Be creative with employee engagement perks, partnering with local gyms or indoor pools, forming a weekend hiking club, providing midday yoga classes. There are many ways to bring life to work, keep employee engagement up and absenteeism down. Remember, every detail counts.
4. Mental health matters. Protect, promote, and address mental health issues and problems. Worldwide over 300 million people suffer from depression. Have a strategy that helps inform, educate, and affects positive mental health change.
5. Model gender parity. Step into 2018 with programs and strategies to promote women’s health (birth control, annual health exams), and being mindful about giving women opportunities to grow and advance in the workplace.
6. Make it a family matter. What policies does your workplace implement to be family-friendly and create a culture of respect and success? Creating a family-friendly workplace is a great way to have a more gender-diverse leadership and attract women professionals.
These are just a few of hundreds of areas your organization can tap into to improve employee engagement and work on an aggregation of marginal gains. It takes time. It takes intentionality. And it usually only takes one question: How can we do this better?
But everything from the way we conduct meetings to the way connect with our employees are opportunities to interact, engage, and increase performance.
So, how can you do things better?
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