Somebody please build this for me, since I’m too busy and the idea is too good. Every year, the best run corporations do an, “Engagement survey,” which is focused on measuring a bunch of crap, really. The data is all there already in hundreds of thousands or even millions of email exchanges between teams, managers, etc. By scoring, sifting and analyzing the emotional subtext and then mapping the relationships over time, you’d be able to see clear patterns emerge.
Coupled with a centralized system to pair the email emotions with employee performance in tools like Workday or other HR systems, you’d have a complete, holistic approach to managing human resources like never before.
There are two components of top teir performance: the ability to know and plan, and the ability to measure actual versus plan. Without the proper mindset, driven by emotion, change is impossible. Every company wants to grow, innovate and acquire more share. This is the, “Maximize shareholder value,” metric and dream the USA’s been chasing since before I was born. By measuring email emotional patterns, we would unlock a bunch of the communication in every company that, today, is largely being ignored.
Did your boss shit on you, metaphorically speaking, before your performance nose dived?
Think about it. Back in the day, I was part of several, “Re-orgs,” which made me feel good, a few times, not so good, other times. When your manager changes, it’s a huge, massive deal for an employee. In fact, studies show that people don’t quit bad companies. They quit bad managers. The recent rise in quitting, the highest we’ve seen in the US since 2008 right before the financial collapse, should give every one of you CEO’s I know pause as you think about your 3, 5 and 10 year plans.
Let me get specific for a moment. At Quinstreet, I started reporting to the 2nd in command. Then I reported to her next in command, then I reported to a manager who reported to my second manager. Finally, right before taking the exit door, I reported to a new guy who showed up after I did to the company, the new team lead, when my third manager left to become self employed. Normally, that chain of events will drive anybody to leave a company. Looking back, it probably makes sense, because I wasn’t ready for the role they needed me to fill, that I took the exit when I had one and moved on with my career.
However, during my time at Yahoo, I had good and not so good experiences with managers. There was a lot to still love about the company, and my role, department, etc, was not well understood given that SEO, as an internal function, was brand new in 2004. It showed up as a critical business priority along with the rise of Google as the dominant driver of referral traffic. These days for some categories, it could be any one of Google for search, or Amazon for products, or Facebook for media, or Apple for apps, etc. Many categories have their own primary driver of traffic, no longer is in every case, Google number one – though in many cases, they still are by a mile.
When working at Yahoo, if management had been able to track emotional shifts across teams, as well as the business outcomes, things probably would have gone the same way. But for those of us like me, and many other amazing people I worked with, we’d be able to see that without the emotional drive, the intellectual challenges of sustained high performance would elude the team. With feeling, we win. Winning is a feeling.
Tracking, reporting and correlating en masse across eighty thousand people’s emotional well being would do wonders for a company. In ancient times, it was well known that an army marches on it’s stomach. In modern times, a company marches on email. Without knowing how the army felt about the march, the food, the general risked mutiny. Without a company knowing how the team feels about the most critical aspect of business, communication, it’s driving blind and risking mutiny. Or worse.
Happy to help anybody who takes this idea and runs with it, I want to buy this product when it’s ready. The email mining techniques have been applied to customer service for prioritization of inbound requests, but not to on-going operating communications within companies that I’m aware of. The best way to reach me these days is my corporate email, first dot last at hookupjs. Or gmail, same format, if you’d prefer that one and aren’t a former or current colleague (most folks who read this have worked with me in the past).