Happier at work with employee trust

Aoife O’Brien runs the Happier At Work podcast. She does a tremendous job curating ideas that contribute to the concept on workplace satisfaction, employee engagement and productivity.

I was honoured when Aoife invited me to be part of her leadership series. In the podcast we discuss why it is in the interest of any share- and stakeholder that organisations focus on trust. We talk about why trust matters, how high levels of trust impact every metric measured in the business, and how leadership can actively work on improving trust.

Listen to the podcast with Aoife O’Brien and Timen Baart below:

If you’d like to discuss podcast or speaking opportunities, or learn more about how you can improve trust, visit www.trustxp.com or reach out to me directly at tb@timenbaart.com.

Will the world see a baby-boom post Covid-19?

With the world in quarantaine, will we see a baby-boom in 8-10 months? After famous large power-outages, or any other form of restriction of movement (basically locking people into their homes, leaving few options for leisure) articles appear about expected surges in newborn babies.

It’d be a logic expectation to have, as it seems that being locked in a small space with your significant other will trigger nothing less than your most extreme fantasies. However, research of the world’s most famous power outages has shown nothing of the like.

“It is evidently pleasing to many people to fantasy that when people are trapped by some immobilizing event which deprives them of their usual activities, most will turn to copulation,” demographer J. Richard Udry wrote in an article published in 1970 on the effects to the New York City blackout on births.

An article published on Snopes.com, a fact-checking reference site, makes a similar point: “Nine months after such events — blackouts, blizzards, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, ice storms, and even strikes by professional football players — reports about ‘baby booms’ in local hospitals invariably appear in the media,” the article stated. “However, these ‘booms’ typically prove to be nothing more than natural fluctuations in the birth rate (or, in many cases, no variation in the birth rate at all).”

Of course, expanding your family has never been more rational. Besides physical attraction, family planning is something that has never played a bigger part in the decision to create new life. Financial freedom, as well as a secure future, will be considered when taking the decision. The insecurity that Covid-19 brings is unparalleled to the modern world. Will the global pandemic be over in a few weeks, or will several waves of new cases continue to hunt humans over months to come? Will it trigger future parents to hold back putting a newborn into the world?

Maybe this time it’s different. Whatever the outcome might be, Newborn24 will be well equipped to reap any benefits if the population numbers do surge at the end of 2020.

Why should we hire a consultant?

Why should you hire a consultant? An excellent question, with a diverse set of possible answers.

I was asked this question recently, and decided to respond with a comparison that many people can relate to in their personal life. It convinced my prospect, and can maybe help you to make a considered decision.

See a consultant as a coach, or a personal trainer. The personal trainer in the gym is an individual with extreme expertise in one area of work. For a few hours per week, you might require this individual to assist you. Her specific knowledge will help you be much more effective during those rough hours in the gym.

A personal trainer can also work as a doctor. If you don’t know where the issue is, or how to solve it, let a professional with specific knowledge of the matter look at it. And possibly, hopefully, you don’t see this person for a while.

Or what about painting the house? If there is a job you definitely don’t want to do, or you don’t consider it core to your own capabilities, then why not hire a painter to do the work for you? It could be a one-off, or it could be on a continuous basis, like a cleaner.

TLDR; Consultants are like coaches. They have expertise in a specific area, and can help your business to improve. If the required expertise is core to your business, then hire the person on a full-time basis. If it isn’t core, but important to be fixed, then hire a consultant.

Me and my team are experts in motivation, employee engagement, overall business performance, and measurement and improvement of trust.
If you need a consultant (or just very smart tools), do reach out to me at tb@timenbaart.com.

 

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

The technology of facts

A short post, as it is time to correct something about blockchain.

A common blockchain misconception is that it is the Technology of Trust (even Goldman Sachs brands it that way)

What the blockchain does is increase transparency.
Transparency influences trust: It reduces its need.
Less trust is needed, as things are transparent.

With blockchain we know the facts. We don’t need to TRUST it, we KNOW it.
Massive difference.

That is why blockchain, crypto, and distributed ledgers are great assets to the world: they reduce the need for trust, and with that the unavoidable MISTRUST in systems.

This makes blockchain not the technology of trust, but the technology of facts. Or even the technology of transparency. A necessary rebrand.

Image credit: Unsplash

Accurate thinking

Over the past ~12 months I’ve been able to get back into the habit of reading. I consume both ‘real’ and audio books. In this day and age of podcasts, I am surprised that audiobooks haven’t gotten the entire world rooting for them. It’s so easy to absorb the content when commuting, going to the gym, doing groceries. Anyways;

Something I haven’t been able to do, is to write about learnings consistently. That’s due to a combination of lack of dedicated time (I haven’t granted myself the time and peace of mind to sit down and write) and the fact that I don’t want to spoil the book’s learnings. Every good book, however, deserves people rooting for them. A few months ago I read Success Habits by Napoleon Hill. His works don’t go without criticism, however, there are several decent concepts present in his books. Go check out both the books and the reviews, and form your own opinion. For me, the concept that stood out – and would love to see more of in this world – is the concept of accurate thinking.

Below is a thread I shared on twitter earlier @timenbaart. I’ve edited below for readability.

Many inaccuracies and false representations of the truth are shared in public debate when we read the media. Misrepresentations influence the climate, political debate, economy, businesses, and religions, as they act as a base for decisions.

Individuals, politicians and propagandists (including very well-educated individuals) often indulge in the bad habit of assuming facts to harmonise with their desires. Assuming a fact in order to fit the nature of what you want to do is one of the easiest things. But wishes can only be converted into facts by taking action. Not just by assuming. Unfortunately, these wishful facts often get a podium. Either because they fit the desire of a larger group, or because they go against popular belief (and will therefore be fought).

That is why accurate thinking is so important. Sometimes we should take a step back. I encourage each and every person to enrich themselves with the power of accurate thinking. There are a lot of people who believe they are thinking accurately. But the majority doesn’t think at all. They just think that they think. They are snap judgement thinkers. Napoleon Hill proposes three important fundamentals:

1) Inductive reasoning: reasoning based on the assumption of unknown facts or hypotheses. This means you don’t have all of the facts, but you assume some facts must exist

2) Deductive reasoning: reasoning based upon known facts. Facts that you know to be true, or believe are to be facts. Lots of people stumble here as they believe things are facts, whilst they are dealing with gossip or hearsay evidence

Something that ‘they said’ or something that ‘I have read’. These words should alert an accurate thinker. When someone starts a statement by saying ‘I heard’ alarm bells should ring. Don’t automatically register the statement that follows as a fact.

3) Logic: Guidance by past experiences, similar to those under consideration at a given time. When reaching a decision, then submit the proposition to logic. Is it logical that the decision I arrived at is correct? Asking this will save you an awful lot of trouble

Besides these fundamentals there are two major steps:

  • Separate facts, or what are believed to be facts, from hearsay or fiction. When deciding based upon your thinking, search first for all factors that contribute, then classify facts, fiction or hearsay evidence
  • Then you put the facts into two classes: important and unimportant. Many facts happen, but only few are relevant. Relevant facts influence your objective, goal, or desired end state. These are the only important facts

Unimportant facts take up a lot of our time. No matter how you handle them, these facts will mean nothing to your objective. Many of those facts are just a waste of time. Devote your time to the important facts, as much as possible.

On to something usually without any value: opinions. Typically based on bias, prejudice, intolerance and guesswork. Most people have opinions on anything and everything. Some make for a good read, but are still worth nothing, as they lack any practical or scientific means. Napoleon Hill describes a dialogue between two men: “Do you really believe Einsteins relativity theory?” “Heck no, what does that man know about politics anyway.” People have opinions about anything.

Opinions make for great smalltalk. We should, however, ask ourselves what influenced our opinions. Did we come by any evidence that we can label as ‘fact’? Are we entitled to this opinion? It’s easy to have an opinion. It’s also easy to make ourselves look stupid.

Besides opinions, there are other things often worth little or no attention: Advice. Especially free advice, without any skin in the game. The moment you start to talk about any plan, objective, goal, there will be many people with advice. Especially those close around you. It’s good to seek information from others. Get all the knowledge and facts you can get. And get into the habit to do the thinking on your own. Allow for no one to do the thinking for you. That is your responsibility. Evaluate the facts, and create your own ideas and opinions.

Ask this question more often: How do you know? You will be amazed with how many people make statements about things they can’t backup. Look for logic, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning. How do you know? Be an accurate thinker.
Image credit: Unsplash

We’re launching TrustXP

This is a post I’ve written for TrustXP, our trust measurement platform.
Below I’m explaining what the team is building, why we’re doing what we’re doing and some insights into the roadmap. Let me know what you’re thinking!
Original post:

After months of research and coding, I’m proud to announce that we’re launching TrustXP: the new trust measurement tool. Organisations of all sizes, across all industries, now have the possibility to measure trust inside their workforce.

As innovation and strategy consultants we have been helping numerous companies with their efforts to improve trust. It’s wonderful to see what happens to teams, departments and organisations when trust builds. The social and business benefits are strongly evidenced in research. But trust is quite an elusive topic. It seems difficult to grasp. And as Peter Drucker famously said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. That’s why we built a tool that helps you measure trust.

TrustXP measures trust through surveys. A proven effective method, but with a different setup, questions, and more relevant conclusions than what you’re used to. With direct implications on revenue, innovation and profitability, and also on happiness.

Powered by expertise, rooted in research

Our methodology is created by experts, and is aligned to trust research and our industry expertise. We are also setting up a research panel to stay abreast leading academic research, developments and findings on measuring trust.

Our method

Every organisation is different. That’s why TrustXP helps you to reflect your organisational priorities, whilst keeping statistically relevant measurements. You’ll be able to benchmark against your industry and similar size organisations, and against your previous results. And we’re in it for the long run. Define, Measure, Analyse, Action, Repeat, in a cycle that works best for you.

What we’re not

We are not a recruiting tool, and won’t put you in a “best employers of the year”-list. These lists don’t respect individual organisations, cultural differences and most of all, are not contributing to improving business or social value. They force employees to cover up their true responses in exchange for a socially preferred answer. Employees deserve a voice. They shouldn’t just be used as a marketing tool. We are not in that business. (What we do encourage, is to make employees so delighted that they will share their joy about their employer with everyone they know. You need to trust them to do that when they are happy;)

We’re committed to help you building trust in the long run. We’re starting with the basics of trust; employee trust. And we’re passionate about bringing you the best tools. Our roadmap is filled with additional functionalities, both on employee trust measurements, as well as all other areas of trust. (Some people told us it looks ‘impressive’ and ‘exciting’!) Follow us on LinkedIn, or drop us a note if you want us to keep you posted about our developments.

If you think your organisation could use some trust, let us know. We’re eager to help you out, whether you’re an employee, HR manager or the CEO. Feel free to email me at tbaart@trustxp.com so that we can set up an appointment.

Additionally, we’re always looking for trust experts and top talent. If you want to contribute to what we’re building, let’s talk. And if you are a change management, innovation or HR consultant, and you could use TrustXP in your clients org; you know where to find us!

What should I read?

After a couple of years of mostly reading blogs, web content and newspaper articles, I doubled down on reading books again. Not just books with letters and words, but audio books as well. Audio books allow me to triple my monthly read-rate, and it actually gives me an impression of how many hours I spend reading.

Taking in audio books requires a focus on the content. I find it difficult to do anything else that requires a working brain – it will cause me to zone-out of the audio. But especially when traveling, I find it easy to spend many hours listening.

I prefer audio books over podcasts. The quality of podcasts is definitely going up, but nothing beats a well written book (yet).

Depending on the amount of pages, I am averaging 2,5 book per month now. I’ll add a section to the site, Books, to give small break-downs of the books I liked, hoping that it might trigger you to start reading it too.

Book suggestions are always welcome @ tb@timenbaart.com!

What does a growth hacker do?

In order to answer this question, we first have to establish what a growth hacker is. A growth hacker from a startup could be the exact same person as the digital marketer within a large corporate, or even a product manager at a tech firm. So there is not that much new under the sun.

The first person to come up with the term growth hacker was Sean Ellis in 2010 (check his blog on startup marketing). He defined a growth hacker as a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth. Later, Andrew Chen wrote a blog post named Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing.

It is clear that digitalisation has opened up opportunities for platforms to grow to hundreds of millions of users. That is why growth hackers are so important. It started of as something that was part of the startup culture, as a growth hacker does not necessarily need large marketing budgets to be successful. By setting up the product in a clever way, based on data, product growth is fostered. Nowadays, only a few years after Sean’s post, growth hackers are active in businesses varying from small startups to large multinationals.

So what does a growth hacker do?

Two things: understand the product and optimising growth processes. In short, a growth hacker tries to understand in detail why people use the product and how people find it, and optimises this process of growth. In order to do this, the growth team needs to know why growth happens.

Understanding the product

There are several ways for the growth team to get to know the product and figure out why growth happens. The team can get familiar with the product through:

• Using the product
• Interviewing clients
• Analysing the data

Understanding the product will make it easier for the growth team to understand why product usage grows. This allows for a metric that will foster growth, which can be optimised.

The goal is to come up with a metric that results in a growth loop. An example would be buying ads, making money, buying more ads, making more money. Another could be using the famous k-factor (growth=#invites*%conversion), with users sending out invitations, leading to more users sending out more invitations.

The metric for your specific product will most likely not be perfect when you start developing one. That is alright. You just need something to get started. You will adjust the metric as you get along. In the beginning of your journey there might be some large gains to be made. As your metric gets more sophisticated, and your user base grows, the gains will be harder to unravel, as your metric gets better.

There is no golden rule for growth, as it is very product-specific. Three completely different cases are Twitter, Hotmail and Airbnb.

• The Twitter team discovered that when people followed a minimum of X others, they would be most likely to keep using the platform. As a result, their whole strategy became to get new users to follow that number of people as soon as they sign up.
• Hotmail simply attached one sentence in the bottom of every email sent, saying “Get your free email at Hotmail”, turning every mail into an advertisement.
• Airbnb created a simple feature that posted a newly created Airbnb listing onto Craigslist. Craigslist was the place to go to for American apartment rentals, and got quickly dominated by beautiful, elegant postings from Airbnb.

Optimising

There are plenty of options for a growth team to optimise the growth process. It can vary from pushing an internal growth metric, via optimising click through ratio’s in-page, to SEO results or ad performance. Keep in mind that you never know anything for sure, unless data proves it. You can think that a pink button will boost sales, but if you don’t test it to other colours, sizes and font types, you won’t know for sure.

A large part of the work is about creating and implementing A/B tests. Examples of testing objects are:
• Buttons: location in page, size, font, colour
• Landing pages: number of words, call to action, types of content
• Advertisements: Wording, call to action, types of content, ad location, publishing platform

Anything that results in your numbers going up and right contributes to your growth strategy. Generally you will want to see results as soon as possible, so you’ll have to do a lot of tests. Most of the test won’t be successful, with sometimes only a 10% success rate. To still get a win every week, you will need to execute at least ten tests a week. It seems like a lot of effort for a little gain, but just imagine the week on week gain that you will have.
There are multiple roles within a growth team, so the day-to-day of the different team members will differ per person.

The growth team

Every company’s growth team will need its own formation, as each growth strategy is different. There are three qualities, however, that every team should have. It might look slightly familiar to Dave McClure’s Hipster Hacker Hustler for startup teams.
1. Analyst: The data has to be analysed to identify opportunities for improvement. Also, A/B tests have to be analysed to determine if those are improvements or need to be abandoned.
2. Creative: Crafting landing pages, testing different ad designs, writing copy and building layouts are things that take a lot of time.
3. Developer: Implementing tests, development of landing pages and other test elements are generally done by the development team.

A startup isn’t likely to attribute three people to a growth team directly, whereas a large corporate can even include a specialist for every viable area, such as email, referral programmes, SEO or Facebook.

Generally, a Head of Growth functions as a manager within the growth team. The Head of Growth should have a heavy data mindset, preferably with a scientific approach. If desired, a Head of Growth can form the growth team together with one part-time assigned developer. If the results are positive, this team can be expanded with one of the other roles or a specialist.

As the company grows, specialists can be hired for important growth sections. For instance, you can hire a SEO superstar or an Instagram champion. These will help you focus efforts within these important sectors of growth, whilst other parts of the team can keep exploring other areas of growth.

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