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As a rising leader and a niche expert in the digital employee experience arena, Lucy explains more about emotional journeys and where they fit into the employee experience within a digital workplace context.
Have you ever considered the emotional journeys your employees take as they navigate the digital workplace, and the impact that these might have?
In this podcast, host Nancy Goebel is joined by Lucy Selby, Senior Technical Consultant at Fidelity International. As a rising leader and a niche expert in the digital employee experience arena, Lucy explains more about emotional journeys and where they fit into the employee experience within a digital workplace context.
Is it possible to map, track and measure the success of emotional journeys? And can understanding this data really turbocharge rates of change? The pair discuss how translating emotional journeys can help optimize digital workplace experiences, and how, by doing so, this approach can benefit employees and organizations at large.
In a world that would otherwise be driven by opinion, listen now for fresh insight on the emerging area of emotional journeys, data and metrics.
[00:00:00.490] – Lucy Selby
One of the really strong trends we discovered is that our colleagues, the employees of a organization, they consider themselves our customers. So even though it is an internal relationship, the employees or service users, they have the same expectation of us as internal service providers that they do with any external service that they might use in their personal lives. That was a very strong message that came through and it was an important lesson we took really seriously. So with that in mind, we decided that we wanted to apply the same rigor for the experience elements of a new offering that we would have applied to external clients. That’s what really got us started on this journey.
[00:00:41.470] – Nancy Goebel
During the summer DWG member meeting in London, I was introduced to a thoughtful subject matter expert, one with quiet confidence, stationed at Fidelity International. Her name is Lucy Selby, and during the member meeting, she raised her hand to give an impromptu talk about the importance of using emotional journeys in transforming digital experiences. I have to say, I felt like I had been beamed into a Ted Talk and we chatted immediately following and just formed an immediate connection to the point that I approached her to come onto this podcast. Lucy’s story was a powerful one, and I felt it was important to give her a spotlight moment as a rising leader, a niche expert in the digital employee experience arena, and an all around interesting and lovely person. Join me now in conversation with Lucy, who is a technology consultant at Fidelity International. This is your host and DWG’s Chief Executive, Nancy Goebel. And as always, Digital Workplace Impact is brought to you by Digital Workplace Group. Happy listening.
[00:02:00.390] – Nancy Goebel
Lucy I am just beyond excited to have an opportunity to catch up with you after having met you at our London Member Meeting at Fidelity International and learning about your expertise and your approach as part of the wider transformation of the employee experience in the organization.
[00:02:25.230] – Nancy Goebel
You introduced a concept and approach to our members as part of our agenda. And a) I was just duly impressed with your confidence and approach, but I also thought you had a unique angle on helping the organization and key colleagues and stakeholders think about the employee experience with a fresh lens. And that lens is looking at things from the perspective of emotional journeys, and that may be a new concept to quite a few people in our audience. And so I really wanted to have some conversation about it so we could learn from your wisdom and experience. And so with that as a backdrop, I am just thrilled to have this chance to chat today.
[00:03:25.330] – Lucy Selby
Thank you, Nancy. This is a subject that’s really close to my heart. I’m super excited to talk to you about this today.
[00:03:31.250] – Nancy Goebel
As am I. And so let’s just start with a bit of a level set. So for someone who’s not heard this before, what are emotional journeys and where do they fit into the employee experience within a digital workplace context.
[00:03:50.810] – Lucy Selby
So employee journeys are the route that somebody might take to achieve an outcome. So a good example of this might be the route someone takes to resolve perhaps a technology issue by engaging support, or it might be a structured process using one or many tools and capabilities, such as onboarding new staff, and there’ll be milestones along the way that make up that journey. So the emotional journey is mapping the emotions at each of those touch points or milestones, and tracking how someone feels and how that might change at each touch point of the journey.
[00:04:28.150] – Nancy Goebel
This makes me think about one of the conversations that I instigated when I put out predictions for the digital workplace in 2023 last fall. And the idea was that if we look at productivity, it used to be that we talked about it exclusively from the lens of how many widgets is someone producing, whether it’s patents in the research space or cars off an assembly line, et cetera, et cetera. And one of the things that I think the pandemic raised as a wider conversation is that productivity is not just about the what, but it’s also about the how, including how people are experiencing the work that they are doing. And sometimes we see a lot of frustration in that experience, and that carries a lot of emotion to your point. And we tend to see that in the measurement arena more and more as part of looking at how digital workplaces are performing. But I’m really curious to dig in through this conversation as to how it fits into the employee experience with your help. And I think it would be interesting to know a little bit about how you developed your expertise in this area.
[00:05:59.970] – Lucy Selby
Yeah, so actually I started very early in my career in tech support, which I really feel should be some kind of national service requirement. It really gives you that foundational experience of what it means to provide good customer service. So you have to become very adept at identifying emotions when people are reaching out to technical support, quite a lot of the time, that might be a vulnerable experience for them, or they might be somebody that finds it hard to ask for help. So you’ve got to be ready for anything in that role. You have to be prepared to identify any emotion because anything might turn up at your desk or might come through your phone. So you’ve got to get really good at identifying emotions and have a high degree of genuine empathy. Also be very aware that some emotions come in disguise. So that was a key learning for me very early on. Later on, I moved into solution design and delivery. So naturally, receiving feedback continuously is an essential part of good design. And I love what you were saying a moment ago about understanding the how. And I’m really interested in understanding the why as well.
[00:07:16.540] – Lucy Selby
I want to go next level on the how, but really get to the root of the why, because I think understanding the why is what really accelerates change in terms of the outputs and outcomes that you see within the digital experience. If you understand why people are completing certain journeys or undertaking certain journeys or choosing not to, then that kind of data is what really turbocharges your rate of change.
[00:07:45.750] – Nancy Goebel
And so certainly your career has shown an evolution. And can you put your finger on what specifically inspired you to translate the emotional journeys into optimizing digital workplace experiences in particular? And then maybe you can wrap around that how this approach can benefit employees and organizations at large?
[00:08:14.590] – Lucy Selby
Yeah, so the first part of that, we were getting ready to undertake a replatform of an older product, and that felt like a perfect opportunity to pause and take stock. So rather than just doing a lift and shift into a new technology, it seemed like a really important juncture to just pause and check in with our internal customers, find out how they felt about the old offering make. Sure that we were carrying forward the requirements and the wants and needs of our internal customers and making sure that those are really present in any new offering so that we could really enhance and show evolution in that digital employee experience. One of the really strong trends we discovered is that our colleagues, the employees of an organization, they consider themselves our customers. So even though it is an internal relationship, the employees or service users, they have the same expectation of us as internal service providers that they do with any external service that they might use in their personal lives. That was a very strong message that came through, and it was an important lesson we took really seriously. So with that in mind, we decided that we wanted to apply the same rigor for the experience elements of a new offering that we would have applied to external clients.
[00:09:37.360] – Lucy Selby
That’s what really got us started on this journey.
[00:09:41.210] – Nancy Goebel
So that was an Aha moment.
[00:09:43.040] – Lucy Selby
[00:09:43.690] – Nancy Goebel
And one that’s very worth pausing and putting an exclamation point next to it, right?
[00:09:51.870] – Lucy Selby
Yeah. It was a game changer for us.
[00:09:53.790] – Nancy Goebel
And so take us through exactly how you approach journey mapping so that it is something that is not only accurate and valuable, but that it’s representative of the diverse experiences of your employees in the organization. Because certainly every organization inherently has different personas and different needs across the enterprise.
[00:10:25.690] – Lucy Selby
In terms of our relationship as people with technology, that line between personal technology and corporate technology or work technology is becoming ever more blurry. We know that there’s a lot of research being undertaken externally for things like, let’s say, social media as an example. Some of those technologies and platforms exist within the corporate world. We’re completely comfortable having conversations about emotional reactions to social media outside of the corporate space. But as those platforms and toolings exist within the corporate space, it makes total sense to have those same conversations inside the corporate environment as well. If we think about the message that we received from our internal customers, that they are our customers, they have the expectations of being treated the same as an external customer. If you think about when you’ve experienced a bad service in your personal life and how that made you feel, you may not be inclined to use that service again externally. You might vote with your feet and go elsewhere and you may be forgiven for thinking that that same behavior isn’t seen inside the corporate space, but it actually is. And what that results in is people will still vote with their feet.
[00:11:40.580] – Lucy Selby
But what they’ll do instead of choosing not to use a service that may not be available to them, they may have to. But what they’ll do instead is procrastinate around it, waste a lot of time, and try to avoid using this service because they associate it with that negative response and negative experience they had before. So one of the things that we did or the starting position for us was to first of all make sure that we had a really good representative sample. We wanted to make sure we were a global organization, we wanted to make sure we were representing absolutely everybody. And important point to note, not all journeys are equal, not all emotional journeys are equal. Some digital experiences are highly emotive for people and some less so. And that can differ broadly culture to culture. I’ve even seen differences between sites within the same country. You need to start off with a really clear intentional spread of research participants. We actually partnered with an external researcher, Nile HQ, who have a lot of experience in that space. We wanted somebody there to mark our homework. I have absolutely no chance of being impartial, obviously, because I’m also an employee and I’m a technologist.
[00:12:51.950] – Lucy Selby
So I wanted to make really sure that we weren’t coming to the table with a whole lot of assumptions and, and this is something DWG also does really well providing that impartial industry expertise and making sure that there’s some controls around any preconceived ideas. So checking that participant base, making sure you’ve got a really good spread across all cultures, all global locations, lots of different levels of the organization, different types of employee and that’s really important. Another thing to be keenly aware of when it comes to making space for cultural norms, there’s going to be lots of differences that you uncover as you go that you’re not aware of at the start because maybe you’re not a part of that culture. So you have to be ready to notice those and potentially pivot your approach or expand your research participants in that space. If you’re noticing a particular cultural difference that you want to just check and make sure that you’re aware of that trend. So yeah, be ready to be flexible and adjust your approach to make space for any unknowns as they become apparent and give them the room they deserve.
[00:14:06.550] – Nancy Goebel
And I think that’s a really important guidepost there because the assumptions that you make, even with great care may require flexibility as you are working through this discovery process. What’s more is that when you have a major undertaking, a project, an initiative, a new capability that you’re rolling out, it’s important for that dialogue to extend beyond just the initial launch as well.
[00:14:41.930] – Lucy Selby
Yeah, absolutely. That’s the continuous feedback we were talking about earlier. So having that continuous improvement program baked into anything that you launch is absolutely essential for success.
[00:14:53.630] – Nancy Goebel
And so the idea of agile working fits very much in this arena just as it does in wider aspects of the digital workplace.
[00:15:03.270] – Lucy Selby
Oh, for sure.
[00:15:04.000] – Nancy Goebel
So that’s another inflection point there. And so let’s talk a little bit about how you measure the success of emotional journey mapping. And part of the reason I wanted to highlight this area in particular is that one of the developmental areas that we see quite often within the digital workplace team is the need for telling better impact stories and behind that of course is having clarity of approach in what you’re going to measure to track progress and impact. And so tell us a little bit about the measurement approach that you’ve taken and perhaps what you advise based on what you’ve been learning as part of your own journey here.
[00:16:02.000] – Lucy Selby
In terms of the methods, we used a chart on which we mapped people’s experiences and we did this in partnership with each participant. So it’s a scale that has a time frame for activities along the horizontal axes and then a series of faces along the vertical axes, which I appreciate may sound somewhat facile on the face of it. However, what it gives you is a universal base. If you think about the global aspect of the research that you’re trying to undertake, and I think this is really common for most companies there are some language challenges that you have to try and either work around or you just completely sidestep them, which we did with this chart. There are plenty of people out there that you want to collect really important information from who don’t speak the same language as you. The emotions themselves are universal, but the language describing them isn’t. So a perfect example of this is schadenfreude, it’s a great word and as soon as this is understood, everyone can reach for that emotion but it takes a sentence to describe that in English. So there’s a lot of variations there in describing emotions but what you can do when you’re working with someone, even if you don’t have the same language, you can definitely point to a face on a chart that describes accurately the emotion that you felt at that particular touch point in the journey.
[00:17:25.240] – Lucy Selby
It gives us a universal foundation to look at these journeys as a data set. It is important to note that these are necessarily broader brushstrokes and what you’re doing with this piece of research is trying to identify trends or to find little pockets of commonality that you want to know more about. I would always counsel anyone to consider it as a starting point rather than a destination or a companion piece alongside other research or other data. Emotional journey data is really powerful alongside usage data, for example, because the usage data shows you what people used when they got there, but the emotional journey shows you how they got there. So it actually takes a 2D set of data and turns it into a three dimensional story. It really brings that kind of information to life.
[00:18:15.520] – Nancy Goebel
And I’m thinking that the outputs of this process can be used in a multitude of ways, not only to impact the experience itself, but thinking about things along the change paradigm. To be able to draw out those benefits that allow people to think, feel or do something differently. As a result of you and your team rolling out new elements across the digital workplace ecosystem,
[00:18:49.790] – Lucy Selby
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So two points I just wanted to connect with that you just raised there. So around the communication element, some of this data can tell you that people in particular countries like to be communicated with via a specific format and that they don’t like other formats. So rather than you as a service delivery team trying to reach everybody via the same format and wondering why it’s more effective in some places than others, it really gives you those answers and actually allows you to make your communication more effective because you’re meeting people where they are, because you found out what their preferred formats or their preferred channels are. And that’s really powerful. It means you’re going to really increase your engagement. And then the second point, because that’s a very specific example, but you also said that there’s far reaching benefits here. And one of the broader benefits is that when you have this emotional journey mapping and you couple it with your usage data, if you only had one or the other, you might look at a particular digital experience and think, no one’s connecting with this. The usage is really low. This is clearly not a good product.
[00:20:03.040] – Lucy Selby
Let’s get rid of it, let’s replace it. If you understand the emotional journeys along with the usage data, what it allows you to do is take a fraction of that cost and effort and really focus it to target those areas where you have the really strong emotional reactions to friction or difficulty completing particular tasks, and really focus your efforts on improving those specific pain points. And you can uplift the entire journey by focusing your efforts in those areas. So actually having this data coupled with your usage data allows you to be a lot more effective, a lot more efficient and much more impactful.
[00:20:47.860] – Nancy Goebel
And so Lucy, we’ve been talking quite a lot about employees as customers and how this approach can benefit their wider experience in the organization. I wonder if we can look at the stakeholder realm from a slightly different angle. And that is to say, let’s look at how to get leaders and colleagues to connect with this concept and approach early on. And part of the reason why I think that pivot is important is that ultimately employees would see the value based on how you’re translating what you’re hearing from them in evolving the experiences. But before you get to that point, there’s a level of getting buy in from leaders and stakeholders and colleagues across presumably the corporate functions to buy into this as an approach for a specific program or the philosophy of the digital workplace overall. So, thinking back, how did you get stakeholder alignment around this concept and this approach?
[00:22:11.300] – Lucy Selby
So the critical point to consider when you’re trying to bring that executive layer of stakeholder with you is to really know your audience. You’ve heard me talk a lot about these emotional journeys as data and that’s on purpose, that’s how we translated this into a language that was important to those stakeholders. So it’s about understanding them as people. What comes back to people, it’s about understanding them as people and what their area of interest. In a lot of the time, executive layer are interested in data because that’s what they’re being asked for all the time that’s on their agenda often. So being able to present these emotional journeys as just another kind of data was really powerful. And again, it was a game changer for us. For the next level of seniority. At the leadership level, it’s actually a slightly easier sell because at the C suite level there’s a lot more interest in people. The C suite are very interested in their company as a community. And so actually, the emotional journeys interestingly hit home really quite well at that level.
[00:23:22.450] – Nancy Goebel
And so, to put things in another way, ultimately decisions about the employee experience are being guided by data and metrics in a world that would otherwise be driven by opinion.
[00:23:37.200] – Lucy Selby
[00:23:39.110] – Nancy Goebel
Again, I’m just trying to think about all the different layers for us to cover in our time together. How would you advise ensuring that an emotional journey mapping initiative is aligned with the overall business strategy and the goals of the organization? Because I think it’s not only important to have that connection with employees as customers, but there is a bigger picture to go along with that, i.e the business strategy and goals of the organization for sure.
[00:24:13.490] – Lucy Selby
So I actually took a slightly different approach on this one, although I think aligning with the strategies and goals is really powerful. If you have that capability within your presentation, your stakeholder conversations that’s always really impactful. However, I actually broadened out, rather than focusing in on the goals, I was really looking at more of the commonalities that we see across the industry. So we know that community and creating a culture of belonging are really important to, I would say most, if not all, companies. Most companies have cultural values and behaviors that they expect from their employees, and there are many, many studies showing that a strong, inclusive culture drives and improves productivity. I was listening to a Brené Brown audiobook recently where she cited a study in the US, where the number one concern or the highest cause of employees feeling vulnerable was worrying about their relevance in the workplace. I can’t think of a stronger message that a company can send to its employees other than asking, how do you feel about your employee experience of working for this company? How do you feel about using this digital ecosystem we’ve created for you? Tell us about your daily life.
[00:25:29.680] – Lucy Selby
What is it like, how you feel matters to us that sends a really significant message of belonging, which ultimately benefits any organization.
[00:25:38.650] – Nancy Goebel
And that’s a very poignant point. We’ve had quite a few exclamation points that I’ve noted as we’ve been talking. I know we’re getting closer to the end of our time together. So I have just a final area or two that I was hoping to explore with you, the first of which is that we know that the digital headquarters of the organization is evolving very rapidly. Whether it’s because of the push around artificial intelligence, the introduction of other new capabilities like the Metaverse, which is prompting organizations to think a little differently about learning and how people connect, and a myriad of other trends. How do you see emotional journey mapping evolving in the future?
[00:26:29.850] – Lucy Selby
Well, it’s definitely currently considered a bit of a fringe area. I do think it’s going to become much more prevalent and powerful. I’ve been looking recently at the trends in leadership, and I think we’re starting to see the sunset on leaders of previous generations who, for example, never talk about their home life or insist on emotions being left at the door. I think we’re seeing the new age of leadership coming to the fore. For example, I was watching the news this morning and the CEO of Informatica was on talking about overcoming shyness. We’re definitely becoming more comfortable as an industry being open about ourselves as whole humans, thinking about the young leaders and entrepreneurs coming through, like Stephen Bartlett, for example, who started up the Diary of a CEO series. The emphasis was on diary rather than CEO, which was so interesting. He’s very comfortable with speaking openly about his personal challenges that go along with his work choices, his journey to understanding why he does what he does as an entrepreneur. He’s very comfortable showing himself as a human work in progress, which we all are. We know that one of the key accelerators in pushing any kind of cultural or behavioral change is to have someone of influence model that behavior.
[00:27:41.910] – Lucy Selby
So this new breed of CEOs, younger CEOs and entrepreneurs coming through are modeling that behavior and making it a safe space for others to do the same and talk more about themselves as a work in progress and bringing their whole selves to work. We’re already talking a lot more about wellness at work. That was something we all saw a huge increase of during and after the pandemic. That doesn’t just mean physically, it means mentally. And the openness we’re experiencing in that space is really just a tiny hop away from becoming super comfortable talking about and valuing emotional journeys.
[00:28:20.530] – Nancy Goebel
And even financial wellness is now part of that equation as well, because when you look at the world around us and inflation and a myriad of other factors, financial stress can weigh into how people show up for work every day as well. And when you think about the industry that you’re in, that’s particularly important.
[00:28:45.340] – Lucy Selby
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s all indicative of this more holistic space that we’re moving towards.
[00:28:53.290] – Nancy Goebel
And then creating the support systems that enable employees not only to bring their whole selves to work, but to help deliver their best and to feel good about that process along the way and be connected and engaged and productive. And so that feels like a great way to start to bring this all together. So in our final moments, is there anything you were hoping I’d ask for and didn’t, or any final reflections you want to share with our audience?
[00:29:27.600] – Lucy Selby
Yeah, I just had one brief point, which was an observation around AI. So I know that might seem slightly different in that we’ve been talking a lot about emotion today, but an observation I wanted to share with you especially. I was listening to your recent conversation with Florin Rotar about generative AI. Super interesting. Something I’ve noticed as we’ve been making significant jumps forward with progress in AI. There’s a direct combination between that progress and people’s willingness and openness to talk about emotions at work and emotional journeys in the digital sense, and I think they’re related. I think that as we look at a future with increased AI presence as a factor, we’re starting to become keenly connected with the essence of our humanness in the workplace. And I think that’s going to lead to more of the work we’ve been discussing today. Florin was giving advice on how companies should, in their journeys forward with AI take a people first approach and not a technology first approach, which I thought was a really interesting viewpoint. So it shows there’s a definite uplift in that type of conversation, which seems to be running alongside, holding hands with the conversation around the forward progress of AI.
[00:30:39.540] – Nancy Goebel
And another thing that I would add to the mix, whether it’s for the teams who are working on employee experiences and transforming them through emotional journeys or employees at large. And that is that one of the things that we’re seeing very early on with AI is that it’s also helping to spark a new level of ongoing or evergreen learning and natural curiosity. So when you think about ChatGPT in particular, it’s taking a question based approach to things, and we can naturally bring that into what we’re all doing day to day, so that we are thinking about things in a very agile way. And the reality is that there will be roles ten years from now that we haven’t even conceived of yet, and technology and innovation will help unlock those new roles. And foundational to rolling with the times is to be that continuous learner and to become that naturally curious person in every aspect of what you do. So, yes, to people first, and I would add those two points about being continuous learners and fostering natural curiosity for all. Well, Lucy, this has been such a wonderful conversation. I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and chat for a bit.
[00:32:21.470] – Nancy Goebel
I think that our listeners will benefit from your wisdom and will be prompted to ask lots of questions about how they should incorporate emotional journeys into transforming their employee experiences within the digital workplace.
[00:32:39.170] – Lucy Selby
Thank you, Nancy. Such a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks for having me.
[00:32:46.010] – Nancy Goebel
Digital Workplace Impact is brought to you by the Digital Workplace Group. DWG is a strategic partner covering all aspects of the evolving digital workplace industry, not only through membership, but also benchmarking and boutique consulting services. For more information, visit digitalworkplacegroup.com.
Emotional journey data is really powerful alongside usage data, for example, because the usage data shows you what people used when they got there, but the emotional journey shows you how they got there. So, it actually takes a 2D set of data and turns it into a three-dimensional story. It really brings that kind of information to life.”
Senior Technical Consultant at Fidelity International
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