Employee experience map - post image

Using employee experience journey mapping to identify and target learning and performance issues – part 2 (how)

This is the second part of a post on using customer journey mapping as an analysis and problem identification tool to help pinpoint the range of organisational factors that impact an employee experience – and by doing so, enable us to design more precisely targeted interventions to improve it. Part 1 provided an overview of customer journey mapping, and background and context to the problem I was trying to address with it.  Read Part 1.

This second post describes how I used the journey mapping technique to map the employee experience, how it enabled more effective framing and problem analysis, and the outcomes and learning from that.

The process: what I did and how

1: Journey mapping research

Although I had a pretty good idea of what a customer journey map was and what it was used for, I’d never done it before and needed to research (at speed) how to undertake the process. These were the starting resources I found really useful to easily and quickly get my head around ‘how’ to map experiences:

  1. Use Customer Journey Maps to Uncover Innovation Opportunities, IDEOU – great post that describes the purpose and process of creating a customer journey map in a really simple and accessible way.  Highly recommend reading this first.

  2. Employee Experience Journey Mapping workshop slides, Designing CX – really good slideshare that provides a much more detailed breakdown of (a more complex, layered) journey mapping process – with specific examples from the employee HR / L&D space. Really good to get your head around the possibilities and potential of journey mapping to improve employee experience and get a break down of the steps to undertake a more detailed holistic mapping process.

  3. Journey Mapping ToolkitHeart of the Customer – the toolkit I mentioned in Part 1 post. Well worth downloading (it’s only 9 pages) – Heart of the Customer are specialists in the CX (customer experience) mapping space, and explain succinctly and clearly the nuances and bigger picture strategy behind customer journey mapping: purpose, steps, and how journey maps can be used to help drive change. I also found this toolkit useful for providing visual layout possibilities (two really good examples shown). One valuable takeaway for me was that there is no ‘standard’ design for a customer journey map. Whilst there tend to be a few common features of journey maps – persona details, phases / touchpoints, emotional state – how you lay it out depends on your purpose —–> so, be clear on what you’re trying to achieve before you undertake the mapping process.
  4. Customer Journey Maps – the Top 10 Requirements (Revisited), Heart of the Customer – really valuable additional practical tips for creating a journey map (although I broke the ‘don’t use Powerpoint’ one…!). Also found this post useful for additional examples of map layouts.

2: Qualitative data gathering: “interviews” (or if pressed for time like I was – targeted, informal conversations)

A journey map is, in essence, a visual, narrative representation of a whole load of qualitative and quantitative data about a particular employee experience. I knew from initial conversations that trainee drivers were the primary audience experiencing the issue, so I delved deeper into this trainee experience by having conversations with Bus Operator Trainers (workplace trainers who undertake the formal training and assessment components of the driver training, have contact with trainees on the job, and still drive some shifts to maintain their own on-job competency).


I ‘storyboarded’ the initial experience map in Word based on initial conversations, then filled in gaps, & added details from subsequent follow-up conversations.

Normally, you would gather as much of this qualitative data  as possible – mostly from interviews with the actual target audience group – to create the experience map. Interviewing employees from the target group enables you to:

  • gain insight and empathy into their experience (which is the focal point of the map), and
  • identify particular ‘personas’ (i.e. subsets of employees with similar goals, skills, behaviour patterns, attitudes or experiences). You would then map a journey for each key persona identified. Interviewing other stakeholders and people involved throughout the employee experience is also important for building an accurate and holistic picture of the experience.

I only had about a day to gather and collate data. I didn’t have the time to speak directly with extensive groups of trainee drivers so created an initial view of the employee experience based on the conversations I’d already had with trainers, a bus operator, former operators, managers and other stakeholders.

After ‘storyboarding’ the content from these conversations (i.e. transcribing / summarising / theming / extracting key quotes) , and looking at some customer journey map examples, I had a clear idea what I wanted to my map to show:

  1. the employee’s emotional experience (highs and lows) throughout their first 12 months, then 12-24 months, mapped against the key milestones in the traineeship program (a.k.a ‘touchpoints’ in journey mapping lingo)
  2. the organisational issues contributing to these experiences, the people involved,  and subsequent business impacts (primarily emerging from the low points of the employee experience)
  3. potential opportunities for improving the experience and business outcomes – identifying where each of the current initiatives, proposed and potential/possible solutions might fit within the employee journey to resolve a current pain point in their experience.

3. Quantitative data gathering: HR and business data

As I didn’t have enough qualitative data to identify discrete personas, I used generic HR demographic data of trainees (average age, gender, ethnicity etc) to create a kind of generic, ‘everyman’ persona*. I also noted and gathered any HR data that would be useful as business impact indicators relevant to the driver training experience (e.g. exit rates, absenteesim, sick leave rates over the time period covered), and collated any quantitative data from reports, previous audits, focus groups and surveys that was relevant for building a more complete picture of the employee experience.

* This is a bit of a ‘hack’ of a standard customer experience mapping process, but it enabled me to at least produce an initial  ‘MVP’ (Minimum Viable Product) view of the problem in the limited time I had. This was sufficient for my immediate needs and could also be used as a starting point for further validation and persona creation.

4. Designing the experience map

4a: Sketching a layout

Once I had a clear idea of what I wanted to show, I sketched a basic layout.


I sketched a basic layout which combined features from two journey map samples from the Journey Mapping Toolkit

4b: Deciding what tool to use

I used PowerPoint. Although there are journey mapping tools available (including free ones), which I did briefly review and consider, I didn’t have the time to learn a new tool (less than 1 day to produce the map). I also wanted to be able to easily share / email / print the output, and for others to be able to edit in future if needed. I already knew PowerPoint could do all of these things. So I started by looking for an existing PPT template. I found these links:

  • How to make your first customer journey map (Quick Guide), EnvatoTuts+ – useful overview on customer journey mapping, plus links to some templates (most of which didn’t suit my purposes)
  • Customer journey map template, Clarabridge – This was a print based PDF (not digital) which I only realised after downloading – might be useful if mapping in a group, during the data collection phase, or as a tool to help you to think through what data you might need.
  • Journey Mapping Template, KB & Co – the closest to what I had in mind…but I ended up not using this specific template as I wanted to include more than just simple emoticons to represent the emotional state, and additional info on issues and business impacts which this template didn’t have.

Given that none of these were exactly what I needed I decided it would be quicker and easier to create my own from scratch rather than attempting to adapt one of these templates.

The annotated employee experience map below describes and explains each part of the map I developed, the data it shows and its purpose.


Annotated employee experience map

Outcomes & learning

My original intent was to use this technique as an analysis and problem identification tool – to better see and understand the complexities of the problem we were dealing with, identify the impacts (on employee engagement and business), and map out the current state (what do we already have? what are the issues with the current solutions? where are the gaps and opportunities?).

I was in a situation where I already knew some of these details, but needed to get a range of stakeholders (including internal executives and an external vendor) across it accurately, succinctly and very quickly in order to appropriately position a new project.

I also took it as an opportunity to personally learn, apply and experiment with a technique commonly used in the consumer (marketing, product and UX design) space to the internal corporate HR/OD/L&D space.

So – how effective was employee experience mapping in helping me to achieve these goals? And would I use it again? Very, and absolutely. Some of the things that surprised me were:

  • just how effective it was in communicating – instantly – a range of complexities and nuances in the problem state, and the impacts on both employees and the business. The visual narrative was a far more effective and powerful overview – particularly for executive stakeholders – than even a highly summarised and succinct text-based analysis report (which, incidentally, I also did).  I find increasingly, that leaders – especially exec – simply don’t have the time to read, digest, or interpret information. This format provides a visual, one-pager enabling an ‘at-a-glance’ holistic understanding of the problem.
  • how powerful adding ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ elements, written up as first person quotes, can be for communicating pain points and employee engagement impacts in a relatable and authentic way – especially when combined with a persona (even if it is an aggregated one).
  • how much data you can pack into a single (A3) page – without it seeming overwhelming. Experience maps are commonly dense with data from a range of sources but don’t ever really feel difficult to digest or understand. Again – I think format of making the emotional experience the primary vehicle for telling the narrative makes an enormous impact (without really taking up that much space). Using simple visual information design techniques like colour and icons can also help communicate this emotional experience more succinctly. The time based (temporal) aspect of the layout also contributes a lot – it enables you to easily pinpoint exactly where and when the biggest issues and opportunities are – so everyone can see much more precisely what we should be targeting or prioritising, at what point of the program or experience. And by lining up business impact data with the peaks and troughs of the employee experience – you can clearly and visually show the relationship between people engagement and bottom line stats.

I also saw and learnt the value and importance of close collaboration with HR when looking holistically at the employee experience – not only because recruitment and pre-employment phases transition directly into onboarding and induction and can have a big impact on employee attitude and experience, but also for the insight HR data and analytics provides on the employees we’re supporting and designing for, and in quantifying the business impacts associated with the high and low points of the employee experience. I was fortunate at the time to be working as an OD Business Partner in a team of HR Business Partners embedded within the business – and can certainly see the positive impact that an integrated, holistic HR/OD/L&D approach could have on employee experience, particularly for recruitment, onboarding and retention.

Employee experience maps as enablers for empathy, action, influence and stakeholder engagement

Ultimately – I think the power of experience maps lies in their ability to show relationships between disparate sources of data in a compact and visual way, and enables a way to humanise data by transforming it into an empathetic and relatable story. It is this human aspect of data – the meaning behind the numbers, rather than the numbers themselves – that can be a much more effective trigger for action. Employee experience maps therefore – can also act as an effective tool for influencing up and stakeholder engagement, in addition to better problem analysis and identification.

…and more…

Yes – there’s more to this story, but as this post is now getting into too long territory I’m going to save that for a third installment – which will cover how the employee experience map can be used as a foundation for solution evaluation – to more effectively evaluate and identify which solutions best meet employee needs at the various touchpoints or phases of their journey.

This third part was inspired by Michelle Ocker’s post on using Bob Mosher and Contrad Gottfredson’s ‘five moments of need’ to evaluate learning technologies – which I happened to read around the same time as I engaged in this employee mapping exercise. I thought it was absolutely genius, and could instantly see the value and application of that approach to what I was undertaking in this project. So…..in the next post I’ll describe how I integrated the ‘five moments of need’ into the employee experience map in order to evaluate which solutions best meet employee needs at various phases of the experience.





Using employee experience journey mapping to identify and target learning and performance issues – part 1 (what & why)

This is the first in a couple of posts that charts my experience using the concept of customer journey maps to map an employee experience….in order to identify all of the organisational factors impacting that experience, and more effectively identify and target learning and performance issues that have the biggest impact on improving it.

This post provides some context on what experience or journey maps are, why you would use them, and some background on the problem I was trying to address with my employee experience map.

What are customer journey maps?

Customer journey maps are essentially a visual narrative of a customer’s (or employee’s) experience, as they move through the various phases or touchpoints of that experience – not just what they’re doing, but also who or what they’re interacting with, how they’re interacting, what they’re thinking and feeling during each interaction.

It is a ‘design thinking’ tool that enables you to more deeply understand and empathise with the customer or employee. They look something like this:

Sample customer journey map from Heart of the Customer - example2

customer journey map from https://heartofthecustomer.com/

Sample customer journey map from Heart of the Customer - example 1

customer journey map from https://heartofthecustomer.com/

sample journey map from DesigningCX

example journey map from http://designingcx.com/

Why use customer journey mapping in organisational learning and development?

I think Designing CX expressed it well in their awesome slideshare on employee experience mapping:

Attitudes drive Behaviours deliver Results - experiences influence Attitudes

In short: because we’re in the business of behaviour change. We know there is a relationship between attitudes and behaviour (the exact direction of which is contestable..but that’s a conversation for another day). Behaviours shape experiences which in turn impact attitudes ….which impact behaviours. It’s a feedback loop. And all of this impacts results (i.e. through individual performance -> which leads to business outcomes).

What can an employee experience map tell us that a training needs analysis can’t?

By looking holistically at the experience, you are able to identify all of the organisational factors (process, environment, people, timing, organisational design…in addition to any training need or issue with learning resources) that impact the employee experience. This enables you and the organisation to focus on fixing the things that truly have the biggest impact on improving the experience – rather than assuming that it’s the training that needs attention. Or, if there are aspects of training or learning resources that are impacting the experience – to identify specifically what these problems are – in order to find the most appropriate solution.

Here are some insights on what can be uncovered from Trish Uhl , who created similar employee intimacy maps to chart the new employee experience when overhauling an onboarding program:

@trishuhl twitter thread employee maps https://twitter.com/tanyalau/status/920953707801362435

Snippets of a twitter conversation with @trishuhl on employee experience mapping

My journey with employee experience mapping

I first heard about the idea of using customer journey mapping to design better employee experiences about a year ago via LinkedIn, through this HBR article and, around the same time, this customer journey mapping toolkit – shared in the LinkedIn Design Thinking Group. I filed it away as something interesting to explore…and recently had a good opportunity to experiment and apply the mapping concept in the Analysis / Discovery phase of a project to better support our bus drivers in learning new bus routes.

Context & background

The organisation knew route familiarisation was an existing problem, and an increasing one with ongoing network changes and introduction of new routes. Lots of ideas had previously been discussed, there were already a number of business initiatives in play to address it, as well as a proposal to explore the use of 360 video (via VR, web, and/or mobile). I’d had some initial conversations with people from various areas of the business to understand the current state.

Why I decided to map the employee experience

It felt like everyone agreed there was a problem, there were a lot of ideas and solutions proposed, but not a great deal of clarity what each solution was really trying to fix.

Objectives I wanted to achieve by mapping the current employee experience were:

  • to better understand what the challenges and pain points for employees were, and when and where the biggest issues were occurring -> this would enable us to more precisely define the problem we were dealing with, and pinpoint where we could make the biggest impact with learning, performance or organisational support
  • to start to identify what types of solutions or support might be most appropriate at various points of the employee journey -> to enable us to utilise the right resource at the right time. We already have a number of existing resources, initiatives in development, and  a bunch of other proposed ideas to explore as ‘solutions’ to the problem. Rather than take a scatter gun approach of offering a whole load of support resources and hoping for the best, I wanted to encourage a more considered and intentional approach. Through my initial conversations, I knew that each resource had different benefits and constraints for drivers, and rather than being a problem that would be solvable through a single solution, a mix of new and existing resources would still be needed – as the problem to be addressed was both in initial learning / training and easy access to accurate ongoing  (and ideally on-job) performance support.
  • as a way of visually summarising what we currently know to provide more clarity about the problem (from the employees’ view), and to enable all stakeholders to develop a shared understanding and a common view of the issue/s as we move forward with a number of concurrent initiatives to try to resolve it. Incidentally, the motivation for creating the employee map was to provide context to an external supplier we’re working with to explore 360 video / VR possibilities. It is the type of user research they normally would undertake but that was out of scope for the engagement they quoted on.
  • support and extend my own development by experimenting with design thinking techniques in a real world work situation – I’d been exploring design thinking concepts for a while, and have for several years taken a user approach to prototyping and testing but wanted to extend this to the analysis / discovery phase.

In the next post I’ll describe the process I took, including the research, useful resources, how I approached it, and outcomes. Read Part 2.


Conversation spaces for deep learning

Preface: this is a post I wrote back in March-April 2015 but hadn’t published as I’d wanted to create a more readable version of the diagram (yes. It took THAT long. Mainly because, as is often the case with draft / unpublished posts, I forgot about it then lost the momentum / motivation to go back to it). I’m digging into the blog draft archives and posting them without significant editing to try to develop a ‘WorkOutLoud’ attitude and become more comfortable with publicly sharing work-in-progress.

I’ve been thinking a lot about conversation spaces lately: public and private; online and offline; formal and informal places and spaces, and how each of these might support various ways of knowing and learning.

The seed of this thinking was planted by Kandy Woodfield’s excellent and thought provoking post last year on the ethics of (open) social learning and working out loud. Kandy’s post prompted me to start considering the role, pros/cons, and differences of open, public, professional learning spaces vs closed, private, personal ones – and how our learning across these contexts interact to influence our identity, connections, conversations, mindset and behaviour.

This thinking has been kick-started again as I’ve reflected on recent ongoing private conversations with a friend. This is a person I have only known for about 6 months, who less than 3 months ago I’d have called an acquaintance. The (what feels like) accelerated status from acquaintance to friend has occurred largely through these private conversations, in which we’ve explored complex topics at a personal level, through a variety of mediums: in-person conversations, text messages, email, phone calls. These conversations have been open, honest, challenging and confusing, where I’ve learnt as much about myself as I have about my friend; that have challenged me to think about things that I otherwise wouldn’t have (or wanted to); and inspired and supported me to change the way I approach certain situations.

It’s a personal learning experience that feels something like therapy, counselling, or coaching conversations – but without the formality or power dynamics inherent in these contexts. John Stepper’s WOL circles (based on Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean in’ circles) – an informal model for peer coaching and support might be an apt comparison. But yet more emergent, organic (serendipitous?) – without the guidelines, explicitly articulated purpose, or group dynamic.

As learning practitioners and educators we often ponder how to achieve deep, personally meaningful learning that inspires and supports ongoing, long term behaviour change. The type of learning that – in an organisational context – translates not only to impacts on business measures, but broad and lasting cultural change. That in an educational context – might lead to a breakthrough transition: from uncooperative/disruptive students with low self esteem to enthusiastic students proud of their achievements with a newfound thirst for learning (This inspiring EdContexts post by Éllen Cintra is a great example). The type of learning that prompts individuals to examine within, reflect deeply, question long held beliefs, and change their behaviour or habits.

My instinct is that all of these learning experiences come about through similar underlying processes. I have been wondering about the characteristics of this type of profound learning: how it emerges, whether it could be achieved in an intentionally designed environment, and the conditions that are needed to facilitate it.

And what I’m thinking might drive this type of learning is conversation. Conversations of: openness. honesty. empathy, shared understanding. shared purpose, trust. Vulnerability. Acceptance. Mutual, ongoing support. Conversations that make you FEEL deeply as well as think deeply. That engender emotional, as well as cognitive connection. It may not be so much about finding a solution to a defined problem, as it is about uncovering, unravelling, & exploring complexity and supporting each other to figure out how and what might work.

Can environments be ‘designed’ to support this type of learning?

‘Design’ in this context is not about developing the right set of ‘learning resources’. It’s not about setting up an ESN (Enterprise Social Network) and hoping for the best – or manufacturing reasons for people to ‘interact’. It’s about creating the right type of ‘conversation space’ for these personally or professionally meaningful conversations (and learning > relationships > behaviour change) to emerge.

Here is a ‘back of the envelope’ set of conditions that I’m thinking might be important:

  • Private or semi-private (e.g. a closed group) conversation spaces. High degrees of trust and vulnerability are critical for deep learning. This may be difficult (impossible?) to achieve in an open, public space. Personal conversations, private/direct/text messages, coaching or performance conversations, journals, WOL circles are all examples of private conversation spaces.
  • In-person contact – maybe it’s possible to develop the same level of trust and vulnerability exclusively through online interactions, but I’m still not entirely sure (reflecting on this conversation on Terry Elliot’s blog re the nature of connection). At the least, it might take longer and be more difficult than if there were opportunities for face to face contact. More ‘present’ forms of online interaction like Google Hangouts, Skype or video calls might help bridge the gap.
  • Regular, ongoing contact, ‘check-ins’ – this may be essential for the ‘change’ aspect of this learning – ongoing, mutual support, talking through issues, encouragement to try (and keep trying) different courses of action, following up and reflecting on what seems to work (or not) is a form of social accountability, and helps motivate, kickstart & continue behaviour change.
  • Empathy / shared experiences and/or purpose – empathy can be so important for developing trust. Maybe because when empathy is present there is no judgement. Empathy might come from shared experiences and/or a shared purpose. Or might simply emerge from listening without judgement.

This is something I drafted a couple of months ago, to start mapping out some of this thinking. I always intended to post it as a ‘thinking out loud’ artifact, but wasn’t inspired to write the framing post and backstory for it until my personal conversations with my friend, and the conversation on Terry’s blog got me revisiting this thinking. (Thanks Terry – and thanks to my friend who has been integral to the backstory. I think you might know who you are).

conversation spaces - work in progress

These are the original scribblings and notes that the above diagram evolved from (you can see why I needed to convert it to a more legible format…):


Reflections on wolweek

Well…#wolweek (“working out loud” week) didn’t quite turn out as I’d anticipated, when I optimistically wrote a post last week about intending to participate.

Day 1-2 I was mostly offline, madly finishing a work piece to support a huge organisation-wide ERP project. Not quite sure what happened the rest of the week…but I never managed the flurry of tweets and blog posts of updates on work in progress and half baked thoughts I’d imagined at the week’s beginning. I was reflecting on why this was the case, and I think it comes down to the simple fact that it takes more than just intentions to change behaviour. Although I had the intention to participate, I didn’t actually think about how I’d do it. Starting a #wol habit and participating actively in #wolweek involves actively participating in a community. This starts with consciously and habitually checking the feed, responding to other’s updates as well as sharing your own – and integrating this behaviour into your work day. This is the challenge of any new behaviour change.

As Jeff Merrell pointed out on my previous post, #wol isn’t just about sharing publicly, but sharing and being open with anyone you’re working with. Yes, I was in ongoing communication and shared work in progress with stakeholders in the project (something I am consciously working on getting more comfortable with – and have found that early sharing of incomplete work or initial ideas- can be very helpful). But – were there also moments when sharing what I was working on with the broader network outside of my immediate work group could have helped me? Definitely.

Some of these moments included:

  • trying to figure out how to link internally to a set of html files from a page in an elearning authoring tool. Googling it brought up a number of promising looking links – but they were all to the vendor’s (CLOSED) community. When I tried joining the community to access the forum posts, the activation email didn’t work. I gave up, and eventually called the vendor’s support where I eventually got the information I needed to make it work. It was a frustrating experience that could possibly have been short circuited by directly consulting my network. Did I even think of this at the time? No. (This goes back to not having thought about the sorts of things I’d share during #wolweek, and when).
  • toying with the idea of a structural change to the online comms/awareness piece I was working on. I ended up leaving it in the end but at that point when you’ve looked at something 1000 times and lost all objectivity, getting feedback from someone with no background or prior knowledge can be helpful.
  • researching how to develop & deploy an ipad app (scoping the specs so still have a chance to get help on this)

So…although #wolweek is just about over, and didn’t go quite as I’d intended, I’m hoping my reflections on why, how and what i could have done will help keep #wol front of mind for me, and trigger a response to share what I’m working on and learn from others. And at least I’m getting more comfortable with blurting out quick posts.

I’ve also got a bunch of old drafts that I will publish…likely over the next week (as it’s after midnight now and I don’t have the energy to do anything other than post this one!).

WOL on #OZLearn: from chatting to action

On Tuesday night, we had a great OzLearn twitter chat on working out loud (WOL) inspired by Simon Terry, who also added tons of value with his contributions in the chat. Whilst there was a bit of confusion at the outset of the chat about what WOL is, by the end many were talking about experimenting with WOL and putting it into practice:

This is so exciting to see – a commitment to action and behaviour change is a sure sign that something has clicked, that people have been inspired, that critical learning has occurred. And then – the next day, I woke up the next day to this conversation:

And all of a sudden, in a flutter of tweets we went from John Stepper putting the idea of WOL circles out there, to us planning Google Hangouts, John sending us drafts of his book, and Michelle posting  about WOL with an open invitation to join the WOL Circle that we’ll be starting.

So what’s a WOL Circle?

It’s basically a small peer support group – specifically formed & structured for those in it to support each other to make their work more visible – and to kick start a habit of ‘working out loud’. It’s a 12 week, “guided mastery program” – a format which John adapted from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Circles.

What excites me about this WOL Circle

I am definitely interested in improving my own WOL practices – and in particular – making it a habit to do so (making a writing habit is something I’ve struggled with). But what additionally intrigues and excites me about trying out the concept is the prospect of collaborating closely on this with a trusted peer group, and getting first-hand experience of a potentially powerful format for peer learning and sustained behaviour change and personal /professional development – which could of course, be adapted for achieving similar goals within an organisation – and potentially transforming it.

The other personally inspiring aspect of this particular circle is that it has spawned from the OzLearn chat. Full credit to Con (@LearnKotch) who started up the OzLearn chat, and who reaches out to leaders in the field each month to feature a guest post. Being part of the crew who helps make it happen is satisfying and a great learning experience (we take turns moderating, storifying, and all promote the chat to our networks).

So if you’d like to get involved in the WOL Circle, go visit Michelle’s blog and let us know. #OzLearn is on every 2nd Tuesday of the month..and it looks like Con already has plans in the wings for next month’s guest contributor. Come check it out.