Team DuVet: Creating Cultures that Inspire and Engage

We are Jason Dunbar and TiAn Vetter and collaboratively, we make up Team DuVet!  As part of an assignment in our Research in ILT course, we were tasked to create a series of research questions based on our own personal, professional, and/or civic interests.  After reviewing each other’s research questions (here and here) you can see that none of our research interests are in alignment.  So why did we agree to partner up for our action research project?  Well, after continued collaboration and conversation, we discovered other shared experiences and interests that could be leveraged in an action research project.

Team DuVet

It turns out that both of us have had very similar career paths in the past, the present, and even similar career aspirations for the future!  With shared interests in emotional intelligence, corporate cultures, employee engagement, organizational leadership, and professional development, we knew we could collaborate on something great.  So with our similar work histories and shared interests, we came up with a mission statement – to bring positive change to corporate culture and create conditions that enable employees to work better together, realize their potential, and contribute to company success.  

The following are three potential areas of inquiry we are considering for our final action research project:

1) What are the benefits of educating employees on emotional intelligence?

  • Background: Dealing with difficult customers and coworkers can be a challenge in the workplace. These types of challenges can hinder productivity, damage relationships, and produce a hostile working environment.  Teaching employees how to reflect on their emotions and behaviors is the first step in helping them to learn how to handle challenging situations in a more appropriate and successful manner.
  • Problem Statement/Opportunity: Professional success is strongly influenced by personal qualities such as dedication, self-control, and the ability to get along well with others (most notably, customers and coworkers).  Teaching employees how to improve their emotional intelligence and then how to utilize that knowledge in the workplace will help them maintain professionalism in tough situations, cultivate a positive work environment, and continue to increase their production levels.  All of these benefits not only result in success for the employee, but for the company as well.
  • Participants: Participants would include one Learning & Development (L&D) Manager and four Learning Specialists.
  • Data Collection Methods: In-person and email interviews with scenario-based questions to assess participant responses to stressful situations; Myers Briggs test; field notes; EQ ‘quizzes’.
  • Positive Impact: Learners will learn more about about themselves and what triggers their emotions.  This practice will teach them better communication skills and how to work constructively in group settings.
  • Negative Impact: Revealing personal information and not knowing how findings will be shared, learners may require confidentiality. This could possibly raise questions about the results.

2) How can management/leadership participate in creating a positive workplace culture?

  • Background:  When management and leadership demonstrate positive behaviors and play an active part in integrating with their teams, a more positive workplace culture is present thus resulting in more success for the business.
  • Problem Statement/Opportunity:  More often than not, management tends to separate themselves from the general employee populace.  Having such a separation can cause a lack of camaraderie which can then be detrimental to employee morale and productivity.  
  • Participants:  Participants would include two members of leadership team, two members of management team, one Senior Instructional Designer, one Project Manager, and four entry level Support agents.
  • Data Collection Methods:  In-person and email interviews with questions on characteristics of what makes up a positive work culture and questions on potential changes; field notes; anonymous surveys.
  • Positive Impact:  Creating a positive work culture starts at the top.  When management and leadership gets involved with the employee community and sets the examples for positive change in the culture, there will be an increase in productivity, better employee morale, and an increase in retention.  
  • Negative Impact:  There could be potential discourse amongst management who prefer traditional management styles, or the command-in-control, my-way-or-the-highway mentalities.  And the process of change towards a more positive workplace culture could require a significant amount of time, money, and resources.

3) How can leadership create engagement among employees?

  • Background:  In any given organization, there are employees who value their work and are committed to the success of their team, department, and company as a whole. However, there is another breed of employees who simply show up to work – sometimes late – and their only motivation is to receive a paycheck. The question leadership must ask: How can we create engagement and motivation for employees who may not be in alignment with the organization’s goals?
  • Problem Statement/Opportunity:  A company should always be aware of the level of engagement amongst its employees.  There is always room for improvement and when those areas are identified, leadership needs to take the necessary steps to ensure that the employee populace is feeling connected to the company’s core values and goals and proud of the work they do.
  • Participants:  Participants would include three Customer Engagement Specialists, three Sales Consultants, two members of management, and two members of executive leadership.
  • Data Collection Methods:  Anonymous employee engagement surveys; in-person and email interviews with questions on current state of affairs within organization and potential areas of improvement; field notes.
  • Positive Impact: The first step in solving any problem is acknowledging one exists. The data collection alone would identify areas of opportunity – where employees lack motivation or direction – and serve as a starting ground for employee engagement.
  • Negative Impact: Leadership buy-in is a must. If leaders within the organization do not fully support this initiative, from beginning to end, employees will abandon any effort to change their behavior. One could say “if leadership doesn’t care how well I do my job, why should I?”