During large programs it is very difficult to keep an eye on what is cooking inside the organization and how people’s perceptions of the upcoming change are evolving. But how do you prevent these surveys from missing their point – or worse: their audience?
Hence, a commonly used instrument to check this ‘change readiness’ is holding surveys. Last week I mentioned the Top-10 signs your employee survey needs to change.
In addition to that list, Naomi Karten describes 6 recommendations for conducting surveys and avoiding that they become a waste of time.
1. Set survey objectives. Define those objectives before you start, or you will end up with a list of questions that are unanswered because they were unasked.
2. Keep survey length under control. Avoid nice-to-know-but-so-what questions. A well-designed survey can be completed in less than ten minutes.
3. Make the survey action-oriented. Surveys are often full of thermometer questions. For example, “Did this course match your expectations?” is a thermometer question. Responses may suggest the existence of a problem, but provide too little information for you to understand the problem or recommend changes. If, instead, you ask questions like ‘are you now able to go back to your workplace and put what you have learned into practice?’, ‘Which difficulties did you experience when making the exercises?’, or ‘which topics will require extra attention before using them in practice?’ , you can use the responses you receive to plan a course of action.
4. Balance open-ended and closed questions. Closed questions ask respondents to select from a set of fixed responses. Respondents can answer these questions quickly, and responses can be tabulated, summarized, graphed, charted, analyzed and reported. Open-ended questions, by contrast, ask respondents to answer in their own words. Responses take time to review and are subject to interpretation. However, open-ended questions frequently provide a level of insight into the customer perspective that is impossible to obtain from closed questions.
5. Ensure an adequate survey response. To generate interest, set the stage by publicizing the importance of the survey in helping you improve your service effectiveness. Explain your objectives and how quickly the survey can be completed. Marketing, branding the survey can dramatically influence the level and quality of the responses you will receive.
6. Tell stakeholders about your survey findings. This is the most important and yet most forgotten about element. Inform stakeholders of your findings and changes you will make as a result of their feedback. When you implement suggested changes, announce that you’re doing so because of their feedback. Don’t overlook this essential element of providing feedback to customers about their feedback to you.
Gathering feedback and taking no action based on the findings is worse than not gathering feedback at all!