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Cultivate Helps Managers Improve Leadership Behaviors

Research has shown that the main reason why people leave jobs is because they feel like they have stopped growing. Keeping employees engaged, happy and challenged isn’t just good for them, it also helps improve their productivity and reduces employee turnover.

At the end of the day, employees and employers both benefit from employee empowerment. Given what people are dealing with outside of work right now, investing in ‘them’ is more important than ever. SAP is an organization that understands the value of supporting their employees – that’s why it has been using the Cultivate platform to provide leadership training and development tools to their managers. In fact, former SAP Co-Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Morgan said, “Cultivate is about coaching managers to be great leaders, but also coaching them to be happy, engaged employees and to take care of themselves as well.”

Let’s look at what Cultivate does and examine some of the specific results that users have experienced since using it.

How the platform works

The Cultivate platform is a digital leadership platform that helps organizations adjust to rapidly changing environments and helps people leaders grow. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to give users analytics on their digital behaviors and relationships, such as how often they recognize a team member or how quickly they respond to messages, and identifies opportunities where they can improve. After identifying an opportunity, Cultivate coaches the user through in-the-moment feedback, educational content and assistive tools. This all happens organically in their flow of work (using email and Slack messages) and in a non-programmatic fashion. Cultivate is completely opt-in and does not monitor users – personal data is private and can only be shared if the user agrees to share it. Dan Healy, the SVP and Head of HR for SAP North America said that Cultivate “gives me personal and objective feedback that I can’t get from traditional forms of self-reporting.”

Over the past two years, the Cultivate results have been significant. In fact, over 80 percent of managers across all of our customers report better awareness of how they treat their teams after using Cultivate for just a few weeks. Even better, we have evidence that that awareness helps create intentional behavior changes that can help managers become better leaders. Let’s dive into some data to look at three specific leadership behaviors where Cultivate has helped managers improve.

How Cultivate improves people leaders

Our theory when building Cultivate was that giving user feedback and data about their own digital behaviors encouraged them to improve – and the data indicates we were correct. In a recent analysis across multiple Fortune 500 companies, we found three behaviors where Cultivate significantly changed manager behavior toward the direct report identified in the opportunity.

  1. Recognizing team members. Managers gave direct reports 62 percent more recognition 30 days after Cultivate identified an opportunity for improvement. Direct reports who receive more recognition from their managers have been found to perform better, put in more effort, and are more productive than their less recognized colleagues. Those with less recognition have higher workplace distress and job stress, and a greater intention to leave the company. Thus, encouraging managers to recognize their employees more often has positive downstream impacts.
  1. After-hours work requests. Cultivate also reduced the number of after-hours work requests that managers sent to their teams, improving the work-life balance for direct reports. Managers made 74 percent fewer after-hours requests 30 days after Cultivate identified an opportunity, which should reduce those direct reports’ burnout, psychological distress and intention to leave, while improving their job performance, job satisfaction and life satisfaction.
  1. Requests for feedback. Asking for feedback is as important for managers as it is for direct reports. The Cultivate platform increased feedback requests from managers by a staggering 65 percent over 30 days! In previous research, our team has shown that managers who ask for feedback are higher performing and create a better culture of information sharing among their team. Frequent feedback requests have also been found to build trust and improve employee engagement.

When calculating these percentages, our team examined data from just before and 30 days after Cultivate identified an opportunity for managers to improve. We also allowed for the reality that managers start at different baselines, had been using Cultivate for different lengths of time, and change at different rates.

The value of leadership development tools

Examples like this illustrate the value that a platform like Cultivate can provide. It not only improves managers’ digital behaviors and makes them better leaders, it also measures that improvement, allowing People Analytics teams to better understand the challenges and strengths of their workforce. Leadership training and development can sometimes be difficult to justify because measuring its effects on user behavior is complex. Cultivate makes it easy for both the user and the organization to understand how company behavior is changing in response.

Cultivate was founded through an Entrepreneur in Residence program at Samsung NEXT in San Francisco. Since launching in 2018, Cultivate has raised $10 million in venture capital and partnered with multiple academic institutions (including the Computational Culture Lab at UC Berkeley and Stanford) to further our mission of a digital leadership platform. Our team is helping to build stronger workplace relationships and empower people leaders and employees to be more effective, engaged and balanced. We love working with customers like SAP that want to give their people leaders tools to be better leaders and communicators.

Enjoyed this article in our SAP Startup Spotlight Series? You might also like our piece on Adaface, a startup replacing traditional pre-employment tests with candidate-friendly conversational assessments that focus on testing for on-the-job skills.


About the author

Rachel Habbert, Cultivate

Rachel Habbert is Senior People Scientist at Cultivate.

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