Flinders University tips on getting the best out of Teamgage

Andy Welsh
November 29, 2022

We've heard from customers that they love hearing how others are using Teamgage. That's why we invited Luke Havelberg, CIO at Flinders University to have a chat and share some of his insights with us.

Watch the whole interview below, or scroll down to read a transcript of all of the key takeaways!

Don't wait - create a baseline before a big change starts

Our people knew change was coming but they weren't sure what it was. And that's not always a great space for your staff to be in. So we started using Teamgage in December 2020, to understand where people were at and what concerns they had.

It allowed us to up our communication at that time and ultimately between December 2020 and June 2021 we were able to significantly improve across the division:

  • Role Clarity (+12%)
  • Connection (+10%)
  • Direction (+8%)

Why Teamgage?

What we wanted to understand as we rolled out our change project, was:

  • were people understanding their new role?
  • was their clarity around their role?
  • were they feeling like they were getting enough communication?
  • were they getting enough support through the change?

All of our people were going through very different journeys throughout that change. So, the only way to really understand how everyone was feeling was using something like Teamgage, to get that feedback in real-time.

Give Teamgage a sponsor

When we put Teamgage in we gave the overall responsibility of the rollout and staff engagement to one of our centralised teams. We wanted someone to wake up each day and to care about the success of Teamgage in the division. So having that responsibility, that focus and sponsorship was really important to start with. Then they started to build out how do we work with Teamgage to provide coaching sessions, how do we educate our team leaders?

Give everyone voice

What was important was that everyone felt like they had an equal voice to provide feedback and at times that was really challenging to look at and review.

But we need to understand how all the different areas were responding to the changes.

It doesn't have to work right away

In the early stages it was variable. Some teams picked it up and ran with it and others that were really challenged by it. I would say it took the whole first year to get to the point that all teams and leaders were operating at a minimum level and you’ve just got to stick at it. Look at it like a one-way door you’re walking through, you’re going to be doing this forever so you’ve got the time and space for bringing it to life in a way that’s sustainable and effective for your division. So we just kept really consistent with our language about it, our sponsorship of it, how we talked about it.

Always work to build trust and open and honest feedback

Do we have 100% trust across everyone to the level we want right now? Probably not. But we have come a long way and are now in a much better place through using the tool. It’s an ongoing process to keep building and hold onto that trust.

Manage reality. Not what you think it is or want it to be

Volatility and uncertainty are so prevalent at the minute. Teamgage keeps us checking in on what is the current reality with things. Let’s manage what the reality is versus what we want it to be or what we think it is.

So when you get 150 staff giving you feedback through Teamgage, THAT is the reality you’re working from. Sitting in a chair in your office thinking that things are going well, but that’s what’s actually going on.

So success for us was always working from that baseline of reality and not thinking that things are going better than they are. And that’s where Teamgage continues to play a really important role for us. We’re never getting everything right, we know that. But what we can do is start to target our limited time and resources as a leadership team to those areas that need it in the right way.

Submission rates go up with team engagement

What we like is each team to be running their own Teamgage session. Some teams run it more frequently and that’s what’s great about the tool, you can run it whenever you like while some teams stay on the 6-week cycle.

What we want is for people to know they can raise things through Teamgage, they can see in a session their feedback is being received and that actions are taken from the feedback as well.

Top-down bottom-up improvement

What we’re trying to do is empower our teams to take their own action at the same time. So if we’re all working together, across leadership and all teams, bottom up, top-down, then it feels like we’re in a much better space than if we weren’t doing something like this at all.

Have data-driven discussions

Importantly when I have my one-to-ones with leaders, as I did this week, I sat down with a leader, got out their trending chart for their dials for the last 12 months and we could see that Communication has been trending down for the year. It’s in a space that's relative to the rest of the teams in the division, but it’s well below everyone else. So the conversation isn’t “how’s your team going” and they go “yeah, alright.” It’s “I can see your Communication dial is trending down, I can see some of the comments coming through, why do you think this is, what actions are you taking to remediate it?”

So then you have a KPI there that’s helping you understand whether things are trending back in the right direction. So again, the time that you’ve got is precious, we’ve had a conversation around communication in the team because that’s what the team is telling this person through Teamgage, rather than just having a general one-to-one around how the team is going, so right away we’ve just used our time much more effectively. So multiply that by 100 or 1000 every year, having a better targeted conversation, that just adds up to a much more effective division, a much more effective culture overall. It accumulates, that’s the key.

Use your Benchmark report

This is the most important report, certainly from a Senior Leader perspective. We have 8 groups and some of those groups have up to 6 teams. So the benchmarking in Teamgage allows us to benchmark for the 8 groups across the 8 dials that we use in one screen (a generic example is shown below), so we can see how everyone is coming out, and it’s that relativity that’s really important for us.

Example Benchmarking Report (not Flinders University results)

So this year we updated a couple of our dials in Teamgage, we introduced Workload and Wellbeing. We had a 50% increase in sick leave in the first half of this year so it was putting enormous stress on teams. We wanted to understand what teams were struggling with from a workload and wellbeing perspective and the benchmarking report gave us the relativity. Some teams were going okay and they didn’t need the support, but there were a few teams you could see that weren’t doing well and that’s where we focused some of our effort and resources to get in alongside these teams to go “how can we support you and what do you need?”

Some things we tried worked well, some things didn’t work well but I think people could see there was an authenticity that we wanted to support people.

Continue to tweak your questions so they remain relevant to teams

We work closely with Teamgage. Teamgage does questions with so many different companies and industries so using their advice is really important.

Then tailoring it for us to make sure it makes sense to our staff. We started with 6 dials, we added 2 more this year, then we’ll adjust it into next year based on feedback from staff.

Don't worry if some comments are just a whinge

On any given day someone is going to be not in a good space, teeing off and having a whinge. I’m from a Financial Services background and we had a mantra that if you have a customer having a whinge that’s a good space to be in as they’re engaged, they’re telling you what the problem is even though you may not necessarily agree with it.

So in Teamgage it’s anonymous, but we know that it’s within a team so it’s about running the right sessions with that team to try and address some of those concerns. But there may be people that you’re never going to get to a certain point and that’s okay as well, but getting all of that other commentary through far outweighs people who use it to whinge. Then as you run better and better sessions, they become more and more productive and effective, then that person starts to become an outlier and they’ve got to make a decision “I’m the only person that’s doing this and maybe that’s not where this team is at now and maybe I need to change how I think about using this tool.”

Gain insights for you and your leaders to benefit from

I’d encourage people not to think about Teamgage as coming in to solve a problem but it’s actually trying to build a culture and ways of working that you want to establish. Without Teamgage, for my role particularly, I'd feel like I’m flying a plane without some of the most important dials. I just want to be clear that it’s not that I don’t trust my leaders in how they’re managing their teams. It’s more around how can any individual ever know what 20 or 30 people are thinking at any point in time? It’s not the reality of being able to manage big areas and big teams. So this enables us to understand what is everyone thinking and synthesise it in a meaningful way to drive action. That would be super tough without something like Teamgage.

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