It feels like everywhere we go, people are talking about employee engagement. It’s great that the issue is getting so much airtime - it really is. Sadly for too many business leaders, that’s where it stops. Lots of talk, but nothing much more.
In speaking with folks who have people leadership responsibilities, we’ve found a couple of themes driving the “yes it’s a good idea, but…” school of thought. We’re on a bit of a mission to create a shift towards “yes it’s a good idea, and…” thinking.
In our experience there’s just a couple of reasons business leaders hesitate to properly explore engagement levels (apart from the standard “it’d be too expensive”) in their teams:
Honestly…that's what some “leaders" have said to us. Verbatim.
We respond this way.
They could well be boxing at shadows. The things they think might be impacting engagement may or may not be real. If they’re not real, no problem. And if they are, then ignorance is absolutely not bliss.
And the “what next” issue? That’s easily resolved with a bit of pre-planning. Conducting the survey’s one thing, but you need to start the process with at least a rough plan of what follow-up activity might look like. More on that below.
What should I ask my team?
Some factors universally impact engagement more than others. Those are the things like teamwork and involvement, reward for effort, feedback, work/life balance along with training and development opportunities. They're measures that are important and should always be investigated in a team survey.
Of course, you can go beyond these and ask whatever questions you believe are appropriate in your business. The most important thing to keep in mind is that whatever questions you include need to be relevant and appropriate in the minds of your team members.
How do I get best results?
First up, your team’s responses should be anonymous. While it doesn’t absolutely guarantee you’ll get results that are totally honest and transparent it most definitely enhances the likelihood of that happening. And of course everyone in the business should have the opportunity to participate.
Next, be aware that timing of your survey could potentially skew results. We’d suggest you don’t time it to coincide with seasonally busy times in your business when by necessity, perhaps work/life balance might be particularly lopsided. Best to choose a time when the ship’s usually on a relatively even keel.
Third, you absolutely must be prepared to follow up on the survey results. As a first step, you need to provide feedback to your team about the overall results as soon as soon as you can after the survey has been conducted. Individual team members will be interested in how the team is feeling and how their own responses measure up against everyone else. That’s human nature.
In addition to providing that feedback you absolutely need to be prepared to act on the results. That means both addressing the negatives and building on the positives. If there’s something you feel the business can’t address for valid reasons, be honest about that. Your team will appreciate the fact you’ve at least considered their feedback.
One more thing….
Don’t spring this kind of exercise on your team without warning. You need to let people know it’s coming, why you’re doing it, what you’ll do with the results and relevant timeframes. The completeness of pre-survey communications is a critical part of getting the most out of the exercise.
BusinessBlades is all about “on purpose” team engagement. We can help with design, implementation and follow up to ensure you get the best results possible. So give us a call or click here to drop us a note.