By Richard Leong, Senior Director, Colleague Experience and Technology, VMware
As a global enterprise, attracting and retaining the best talent (what we call colleagues) has always been a priority for VMware. But what does that mean in practice? For us, it revolves around what we call the colleague experience, roughly defined as any aspect of our colleagues’ interaction with VMware processes, tools, and services in three distinct areas—technology, physical environment, and culture.
Good things come in threes
Technology is, obviously, the actual tools colleagues use to get their jobs done. Physical environment is much more than having a nice desk. It’s what colleagues see, smell, taste, hear, and touch from the moment they enter the office. But the true bedrock of any colleague experience is most certainly the company’s culture—leadership, structure, benefits, and even personality.
Technologies and physical environments are relatively easy to change, but culture is endemic and very hard to alter, although all three areas must always be treated as equals. After all, having a great culture is meaningless if the internet keeps going down (as an example).
The fabric of our lives
The Colleague Experience and Technology Team (CET) at VMware is tasked with weaving the aforementioned into the fabric of work life. Our strategy is based on developing/promoting shared vision, immersive exposure, and continual learning.
Shared vision involves the future. What will make VMware products & services desirable five years from now—how will they demonstrate, without telling, the power of good design—and how will they improve our (future) colleagues’ lives.
Immersive experience is what’s happening in the present, what experience are we delivering to colleagues today. Our team gets executives and stakeholders directly exposed to colleagues and their struggles. By ‘walking in their shoes’, it builds a desire to understand company culture holistically.
Continual learning, as it sounds, encompasses what our organization needs to learn to deliver great products and services in the future. The deeper our understanding of customer/colleague challenges and struggles, the more effective teams can work to eliminate them.
The CET team is responsible for a wide variety of activities within VMWare
Putting colleagues first and foremost
Traditionally, enterprises operated from a top-down basis. Decisions regarding technology, physical spaces, and culture were made at the top, with minimal input from employees. Our CET teams flips that paradigm on its head, employing a colleague-centric framework that takes both a top-down and bottom-up approach to issues. The goal is to empower every colleague such that they know they have influence on the process.
That said, we also strive to avoid ‘corporate stasis’. We operate from a lean-startup mentality, meaning we don’t spend weeks or months trying to please everyone. We gain consensus of what works and then implement, with the caveat that our team is free to make alterations as needed in the future. Failure is fine, unachievable perfection is not.
Unlike a sales model where numbers are straightforward, quantifying whether our efforts are successful or not is more esoteric. Therefore, we utilize satisfaction surveys, colleague sentiment (from social media, in-person discussions, etc.), and stakeholder engagement to determine key performance indicators (KPIs). Since colleagues are empowered to voice their opinion, such KPIs are significantly more accurate than with traditional models where employees risk retaliation from management.
An investment mindset
The CET team doesn’t work in an isolated bubble, either. We adhere to our own pillars of success, which include a flexibility in approach, empathy for our fellow colleagues (at every level), ongoing adaptability, and a mantra of bigger & wider thinking.
All this investment in the colleague experience has paid off in a variety of ways. Productivity has increased, service has become more effective, VMware can match employee expectations of what a work environment should be, ideation and a creative mindset (a crucial competitive edge in the global marketplace) are ubiquitous, and a symbiotic organizational influence structure has emerged.
Making VMware ideally positioned to attract and retain the best talent the world has to offer.
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