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3 things your employees want you to know about change

For the first time in the history of change management, there exists a technology that can empower every single person in your organization to drive change.

Not activate, not engage, but empower people to drive change.

That technology is Qvest, and it’s revolutionizing organizational change management by getting people to ask questions about the things that matter most to the company.

To explain Qvest, I sometimes use a crude shorthand: Qvest is an anti-survey. Its purpose, process and outcomes are the exact opposite of a conventional survey’s.

The key to empowering people through Qvest is to mobilize them on three levels:

1. Individually—each participant starts by asking one question

2. Peer-to-peer—participants exchange questions and answers one-on-one

3. As a group—when the Qvest closes, everyone involved gets the group’s output

To explain Qvest, I sometimes use a crude shorthand: Qvest is an anti-survey. Its purpose, process and outcomes are the exact opposite of a conventional survey’s.

In a survey, an admin, typically a leadership consultant, develops questions and suitable answers. Participants respond by selecting from what’s available. The admin then analyzes the results and is left with sole ownership to produce change.

In a Qvest, an admin invites everyone to join a conversation and acts as a facilitator. Participants exchange questions and answers one-on-one. The rich and spontaneous conversational data is then automatically analyzed and shared with participants so that everyone can take responsibility for what was learned and together drive change.

This way the manager or change agent who initiated the Qvest gets unique insight into WHO and WHAT is important to succeed with specific change initiatives.

With Qvest, change will become your status quo

But what kind of insights do you get from using Qvest instead of a survey? And what are the benefits from empowering employees and other stakeholders to drive change instead of just measuring their engagement or satisfaction scores?

To take the latter first, let me quote a manager who received a question from a dissatisfied employee in a Qvest:

“The reason that we are doing this in this form is exactly to get the issues on the table, good or bad, inclusive of the frustrations that you seem to be having. If we had asked you to answer pre-defined questions, as we have normally done, then we are less likely to get the issues on the table. You have to see this as a genuine intent from us to make this company even better. And there are some clever analytics done afterwards to detect the real issues from the entire Q&As. I believe this will be great and I hope that we’ll convince you as well once you see the outcome. Otherwise feel free to share with me.”

In a sense, with his response, the manager entered into a new employment contract with his employees. In this new contract, it’s equally as important to the company’s future to have a shared understanding of the problems (issues) threatening the organization as it is to collaborate on solving those problems.

Ultimately, in this new contract, the manager and the employee have moved from a one-way communication to having a two-way conversation. The manager’s final sentence, “Feel free to share with me” is basically an invitation that says: “Let’s have a conversation because I know I cannot do this alone and I need you to join me!”

What's so unique about the insights you get from a Qvest?

“The clever analytics” done after a Qvest consists of, among other things, an organizational network analysis (ONA) that combines the questions people ask each other with the distribution of questions between different departments, regions or functions. This way the manager or change agent who initiated the Qvest gets unique insight into WHO and WHAT is important to succeed with specific change initiatives.

Most employees are not risk-averse or resistant, but proactive about change and excited to support their organization's business objectives.

So, who and what is important for employees when companies go through organizational change?

Drawing on my 11 years of experience with helping organizations use Qvest, I find there are three common things employees would like their managers to know:

  • “We want change as much as you do—please let us contribute!”

  • “We know where the problems are—please let us help fix them!”

  • “We see the opportunities—please let us take advantage of them.”

"We want change as much as you do - please let us contribute!"

Reviewing thousands of conversations in Qvest, I’ve learned that most employees are not risk-averse or resistant, but proactive about change and excited to support their organization’s business objectives. They just need an invitation to contribute their ideas.

For example, some employees pointed out in a Qvest that they’re eager to make bold decisions, but that their company culture currently doesn’t tolerate mistakes. Their colleagues responded by recommending different ways to change the culture to encourage innovation and embrace initiative. For example, an employee suggested the following solution to inspire innovation: any team could test a promising idea without prior approval by multiple stakeholders as long as the budget was under 50.000 DKK.

Similarly, many employees are using Qvest to ask the management to engage them early in the change process and to allow them to offer critical feedback. For example, some asked the management to “walk the shop floor” more often and discuss issues directly with the employees, so that any flaws could be detected and improved sooner.

"We know where the problems are - please let us fix them!"

Helping hundreds of organizations use Qvest, I’ve learned that most employees are self-starters who are deeply engaged and eager to identify and solve their company’s business problems. They just need permission to speak openly and express concern.

Qvest empowered her to surface this insight early, which enabled the top manager to address this issue and prevent it from becoming a much more serious problem down the line.

For example, when one company asked their employees what they think needs to change so that their company could be more successful, most employees came up with deeply insightful answers. One employee, for example, said in a Qvest that she sees division and lack of collaboration between the “head office” and the “front lines” as a big problem, which is ultimately having an impact on the quality of the services they’re delivering to their clients. She offered to act as a bridge between the two groups and to help come up with new ways of streamlining cross-team collaboration.

In another Qvest, one mid-manager admitted to a top-manager that she’s not 100 percent clear what the strategic direction of the company is, making it hard for her and her staff to do their jobs effectively. Qvest empowered her to surface this insight early, which enabled the top manager to address this issue and prevent it from becoming a much more serious problem down the line.

"We see the opportunities - please let us take advantage of them!"

Using Qvest to support all kinds of companies, I’ve learned that most employees are creative change agents who want their companies to succeed and are bursting with innovative ideas. They just need an opportunity to express their unique perspectives.

Transparent conversations, relationships built on trust, and empowered, questioning employees. That’s the future of organizational development and effective change management.

For example, in one conversation in Qvest, an employee pointed out that the company could really benefit from having a communications lead or a communications team. The company was now in a place where such a role was paramount, the employee explained. In another conversation, an employee pointed out that the company needed to have clearer “boundaries” between the short-term tactical approaches and the long-term strategic desires and that those boundaries needed to be more clearly communicated to all employees.

In a different conversation, an employee pointed out that the overall work product and commitment to the company would improve significantly if the management made a shift in the way they interacted with the employees. This employee suggested that the company would be a lot more effective if the employees were encouraged more and if the company worked on becoming better at providing feedback, celebrating successes and allowing employees to listen to and learn from each other.

Transparent conversations, relationships built on trust, and empowered, questioning employees. That’s the future of organizational development and effective change management. And it’s the future made possible by Qvest.

If you’re intrigued, request a demo today to talk to one of our experts.

Empower your employees, and everything will change.

Pia Lauritzen

Pia Lauritzen

Co-founder and Chief Methodologist at Qvest. Pia is the inventor of the Qvest method. She has a PhD in Philosophy and has spent the last 20 years researching and writing about the nature and impact of questions.

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