Recently I had the pleasure of working with a client who's participating in the pilot program for Fullcrum, my employee engagement service. To explain the timeline a bit, the three main events in this process are:
- Entire studio takes an engagement survey
- Facilitate group discussions onsite with all employees
- Follow up with the leadership with survey data, group findings, personal observations, and suggestions
This particular client, Filament Games, has long been a favorite of mine. I'm friends with the president and creative director, some of their employees are ex-coworkers of mine, they support good quality of life, and they've been exceptionally successful in the learning games space. I expected things to go well during the Fullcrum process, but I didn't foresee how fulfilling it would be for me.
Everything went swimmingly for the first two phases. There was 100% participation in the survey, and the next day I was able to meet with almost every employee in 4-8 person groups. We had some lively, enlightening discussions that gave me a really good picture of which areas of engagement should be addressed by the leadership. That was Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon I was scheduled to meet with studio leaders and deliver my synopsis.
To be frank, I wasn't sure what to expect. Even when you're invited into a directors meeting, even when they give you the floor for 60 minutes, even when you're accepted as an expert on the material at hand, things don't always go smoothly when you start talking with studio leaders about improving employee engagement. Will they react defensively? Will they place any value on your insights? Will they evince any indication of pursuing improvement? You are, after all, going to wind up challenging the company's bottom line for the sake of decidedly non-concrete "people issues".
Let me tell you, these leaders stepped UP. They were completely engaged in the discussion. They weren't afraid to ask questions of me or each other. They offered their own insights and explanations, and invited each other to recount things they originally said in the previous day's group discussion, meaning they had been listening to each other. You have no idea how rare that is.
These are the people responsible for the direction of a company and the development of more than three dozen employees, and I was allowed the honor of delivering what were -- at times -- rather pointed observations about how to improve their leadership. They listened, and I could tell in their faces and responses that they got it.
This is why I left being a studio developer to make a very difficult living as a leadership and employee engagement consultant: to educate leaders, help studios improve, and see game developers become happier and more productive. It's my dream job, and I recently got to experience it in a very intense and fulfilling way.
For me, it does not get any better than this.