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7 Simple Rules for Employee Survey Success

Employee surveys – love them or hate them, are a part of corporate life, whether you are in operations or HR. If managed properly, they can be an effective tool in helping to retain your employees. Done improperly, they are an administrative exercise that leads to frustration for all involved and resentment from your employees. In order to make this all work, your organizational leadership has to believe in the value of the feedback they received AND have a desire to change. So, your Survey Feedbackcritical equation you need to remember is Belief + Feedback + Desire to change = Survey Value. Therefore, my advice to organizations is that you need to decide if or why you want to do a survey, before you first launch into one. It you want to conduct a survey, there many important elements to consider. If, after evaluating the criteria, you decide you don’t or shouldn’t conduct a survey, than that is ok too.

So, here are Scott’s rules for deciding on whether or not you should conduct an employee survey:

  • Rule #1:
    • As an organization, are you prepared to act on some of the feedback you receive? Notice I said “some.” You can’t necessarily act on everything, but you need to acknowledge the feedback and then tell your employees what you can and cannot do. If the answer to this question is “no” (and you need to be honest) than don’t do the survey.
  • Rule #2:
    • Communicate the results to your employees and then commit to an action plan. If you don’t want to do, or can’t do, both of these things, than don’t do a survey.
  • Rule #3:
    • Are your managers accountable for the results and action plans that are derived from the survey? Or is it an “HR thing.” If your managers and organizational leadership aren’t accountable, than don’t do a survey. No matter how you position it, if managers aren’t accountable, your staff will see this is a paper exercise with no value.
  • Rule #4:
    • You don’t have to have an action plan for everything because not all questions you ask are of equal importance to your employees. For example, they may score you low on a question pertaining to work/life balance; however, perhaps that isn’t that important to them at the moment because you are a start-up that is trying to secure venture capital financing and everyone is working like dogs to push your first product release out the door.
  • Rule #5:
    • Therefore, based on Rule #4, before you go creating action plans, ASK your employees what IS important to them. If you identify 6 areas of opportunity, get them to rank what is most important to them. Ask them, “If, as an organization, we could address/improve 3 things, what should they be?”
  • Rule #6:
    • Involve your employees in the creation of the specific action plans and communicate progress (frequently) on the action plan. Operational leaders need to own the execution of the strategies. Make sure you tell your staff what you can’t do/improve at the moment – could be due to budget, timing, etc. Your employees will appreciate your candor.
  • Rule #7:
    • No “check in the box’s” allowed. Meaning, you don’t just create a couple of action items, half-heartedly address a few symptoms and then move on with operational life. You have to get at the root cause issues, create a tangible plan and then continue to monitor it. Surveys and action plans need to be fluid and ongoing – not a singular moment in time.

These seven simple rules should help guide you, organizationally, through the survey process. The key is to make them part of your business plans with a strategic focus on retaining your talent. If your goal(s) is anything else, you are wasting your time and that of your employees. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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