December 20, 2021

The Game of Life with Karen Mangia

This week Karen Mangia, VP of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, joins Hilmon Sorey on The Winning Zone to discuss the great resignation, the day of reckoning, and how all of this ties to the game of Life.

The Great Resignation

Karen begins by discussing the question that matters most in regards to the opportunity that the global pandemic has created as far as the workforce goes: What matters most to your employees?  Since the pandemic started and we have either been homebound or working overtime, there has been a spike in burnout rates that is being referred to as the great resignation. In order to try to curb this, employers are responding by offering their employees more- more pay, more PTO, etc- equating these offerings to happiness and high productivity. However, in Karen’s opinion, that is not the signal that employees are trying to give their employers. Learn more about what employees really want at 01:06.

Flexibility, Autonomy, Choice

At 02:51, according to Karen, we are experiencing “...a kind of bureaucratic reconciling of our beliefs…” regarding work- what it is, where it takes place. She believes that what people want is flexibility, autonomy, and choice. When people were jolted into the experiment that the pandemic created for the workforce, many organizations proved that they could still be incredibly productive and put up great results, which is what has triggered this aforementioned reconciling of our beliefs about work itself. Keep listening to learn more. 

The Game of Life

How do you win at the Game of Life? You know, the old board game? The goal is to collect as many cars, connections, and cash as possible. You then continue through the game until you arrive at the day of reckoning. At that point, if you have not collected enough cars, connections, and cash, then you spin the wheel, and your future- millionaire or bankrupt- is left to chance, and you have no choice. Karen realized that the pandemic caused us all to arrive at this same day of reckoning in real life at the same time. And everyone counted up everything they had and either landed on millionaire or bankrupt. The difference, in our reality, is that oftentimes those who ended up bankrupt were our friends and neighbors, or even ourselves. Now, the board game rules were decided by a couple of people who just made them up. But how can we design this real game of life that we are living so that everyone can participate? So that everyone has a chance to realize their own potential without going all-in and landing on bankrupt? Listen at 05:15 to find out Karen’s thoughts on this. 

Create Choices

“Choice is what moves us from limited to limitless.” How do we move away from the binary outcomes that occur in The Game of Life? By creating choices. Great leaders and organizations have a great understanding of what their employees want, need, and expect. They gain this understanding through deep listening, and this allows them to create choices based on their employees’ wants and needs, and when you give people a set of choices that they feel are favorable, it changes everything. Listen more at 08:02 and hear the real-life example Karen gives of a company that listened and gave choices to their employees that ultimately “moved the needle on the perception of what it was like to work there...”

What is a Listening Campaign?

At 12:59 Karen explains that there are many different ways for a company to launch a listening campaign regarding their employees, and how you do it is going to depend on the culture of the company. You can have one-on-one conversations, send out surveys, etc. It is ideal to offer more than one way for your employees to communicate with you about what you are missing. However, the most important thing is to offer to have the conversation in the first place so that they can help you think about some of the choices that involve them. It is all about co-creation.

The Genius Question

How can we make this easier? That is the genius question. Not: How can we make this easy? By starting a conversation with employees and customers where we ask the question and use the word easier, we are asking a question that can have a realistic outcome. Easier can be reached together, but making something easy just might not be possible at all. And so, when we ask this genius question, we “...invite people to tap into their own genius and come up with little things that we can take away and try and change…” together. Listen at 15:51 to hear more about the genius question and a story behind it. 

The Five-Minute Fix

At 19:47 Karen explains that we all feel greater ownership of something that we helped create. So, as an employee, when we feel that we were able to have a voice and participate in the discussion and help create the choices we are given, and we own the outcomes of those choices, we tend to perform better because “...ownership is a proxy for trust.” In addition to feeling greater ownership of the choices we helped create, we can also move forward toward the ultimate goal by breaking it down into small, realistic steps. Karen calls this the five-minute fix. Take 5 minutes per day to work towards whatever the goal is. This will help us feel progress without being overwhelmed or like we wasted our time if it doesn’t end up working out. Continue listening to learn more about this and hear examples of how it can be put to practice. 

Get Some Context

In order to measure the impact of these insight-based decisions that are being made within a company, you cannot look at the macros. You cannot measure it with a number. Instead, you need to be able to break it down into a direct correlation between the activity and the outcome. You need to put in “...measurements that people can affect.” It is imperative that you read the comments on the survey or listen to the stories told in the focus group- you must have that context to solve for the measurement. Learn more about this at 23:34.

Reconnect with Your Values

At 26:45 Karen talks about stress and burnout. She explains that when we are experiencing a high level of these things if we just take a small amount of time each day to reconnect with our values- write about how they affect everyday life- in a journal, it can greatly reduce your level of stress and burnout. Just the small action of writing/remembering/reconnecting with what matters to you can make such a difference. Continue listening to hear about how this stress-free experiment started and where you can learn more about it in her book, Success from Anywhere.

To hear more insights and advice from Karen, you can contact her or follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Key Snippets

01:06 The Great Resignation

02:51 Flexibility, Autonomy, Choice

05:15 The Game of Life

08:02 Create Choices

12:59 What is a Listening Campaign?

15:51 The Genius Question

19:47 The Five-Minute Fix

23:34 Get Some Context

26:45 Reconnect with Your Values

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