Maximising results from employee surveys (Article)

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In this High Performance Newsletter article, Derek Stockley highlights an important benefit that adds real value to the analysis of results from employee or attitude surveys. The information gathered can be used to dramatically improve team leader and management performance in a short time-frame.

Employee Surveys... a most useful management tool

Employee surveys (also called attitude surveys) have been a useful organisational tool for many years. Whether conducted as a "once only" exercise, or on a regular basis, the surveys can provide useful and relevant information about an organisation’s climate and culture.

Provided that the surveys are implemented correctly and appropriate action is taken with the results, ongoing survey measurement provides a true picture of the organisation’s health over a period of time.

The results acknowledge the positive actions taken by management and employees and highlight problem areas for greater attention.

Survey design starts from goals

Care should be taken to ensure that the information gathered is useful.

Whilst general "motherhood" statements are helpful, the survey results should provide concrete, usable information.

For every topic covered and question listed, you should ask:

  • What information will be provided by the answer?
  • Is the answer specific enough?
  • What are the implications of this answer?
  • Will I have enough information to take action?

Turning responses into performance improvement

An added benefit is the information that can be gained about management methods.

For example, employee responses about the overall health (culture and climate) of the organisation can be compared with specific management behaviours.

This is demonstrated by Dr. Jim Trinka PhD, the Deputy Director of Training, FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation - USA).

Dr Trinka had access to a range of organisation surveys. Though careful analysis, he was able to discern a number of key findings about management performance.

For example:

"...managers who set clear performance standards, become more knowledgeable about employee performance, and provide fair and accurate informal feedback on performance strengths can significantly improve individual performance."

"Focusing on improving the behaviours associated with "Developing Others" and "Communication" competencies, managers can increase overall leadership effectiveness scores by 50-60 percent."

In one employee survey, Dr Trinka identified five key survey questions:

  • "In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work."
  • "At work, my opinions seem to count."
  • "There is someone at work who encourages my development."
  • "This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow."
  • "In the last six months, someone at work has asked me about my progress."

Dr Trinka identified high positive scores for these questions led to very high leadership effectiveness ratings for the team leaders/managers of these staff.

These questions focus on behaviours that dramatically improve team leader/manager performance.

This sort of analysis can pinpoint key management actions that dramatically improve performance.

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