It turns out that this isn’t as much of a ‘new’ science as the title suggested – a little research showed that Sociometry has been around since at least 1951 making it somewhat older than me and I think we can all agree that this rules out the adjective ‘new’. But this doesn’t detract from how interesting the science is and how relevant it is in today’s Customer Operations world. Sociometrics can be used to shape high-performing teams but it is also a great way of helping planners and schedulers to come up with inclusive and productive policies which help workforces to engage, pull together and move forward.
There’s a lot in Sociometrics that focusses on developmental psychology in children and is therefore not relevant to the world of working adults. However, there are some things in there that could guide and inform schedulers – and businesses – the world over.
Who determined what was defined by ‘unpopular’ shifts? It was often the prejudices of the person setting the policy simply being projected onto the shifts
Firstly, there’s the notion of adequate motivation. The contention is that every person should feel that the situation – the working environment in this case – is in their own best interests. In other words, designed to bring out the best in them. They should also feel that they have an opportunity to become an active agent in matters that concern them. This points beautifully towards agents’ preferences playing a greater and greater role in the creation of schedules. In conversation with Doug Casterton recently, we agreed that the old notion of ‘fairness’ in schedules actually failed in being fair to all and actually succeeded in being unfair to everyone! The model was based on everybody having to work the ‘unpopular’ shifts, but, as the saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison – who determined what was defined by ‘unpopular’? It was often the prejudices of the person setting the policy simply being projected onto the shifts; ‘I wouldn’t like to work until 10:00 so therefore no-one does. By understanding the impact of Sociometrics on happiness and fulfilment and simply seeking out the preferences of your workforce, you may find that you achieve great coverage across a high percentage of your day, and you may find that those ‘difficult to fill’ schedules are manna from heaven for some of your employees.
Remove barriers ... and see your agents blossom in skills and attitude
Secondly, Sociometrics focusses on the importance of the actual ‘make-up’ of the social group in all situations. People, it goes on to say, naturally find happiness when they fall into groups with certain established roles already in place. The Leader, the Care-Giver, The Class Clown, The Expert etc. When people fall into these networks, they are happy, engaged, spontaneous and creative and – more importantly – they look to remain in the group. So, providing a workable, easy-to-administer, flexible shift and break exchange scheme in your workplace will enable your employees to establish their own natural groupings (when skill levels and demand allow, obviously!). Team-based schedules or too-rigid policies prohibit your workforce from indulging in a most human trait – to interact socially. Remove barriers to this and see your agents blossom in skills and attitude, becoming more loyal to your organisation in the process and positively impacting your attrition rates.
Not convinced? Well, Sociometrics is already part of your everyday life as it is at the heart of Social Media platforms such as Facebook. The ability of Facebook to tap into the human need for social interaction and inclusion has driven the network to total global ubiquity. So, even if you are not convinced, you can be assured that most (if not all) of your workforce are!
I’ll finish with a question for you all; what could you do differently in your organisation today to help to improve the ‘Sociometric Health’ of your centre? leave your comments on linkedin
Date Published: 07/10/2019