Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Don't Ask The Question If You Don't Want to Deal With the Answer

I'm a consultant. Business owners come to me for advice. They don't always like the answer I give them. But it's their company--they don't have to use that advice. And that's OK. I reserve the right to do the same in my own company.

This happens to me when doing audits as well. When a company asks me to do any type of an audit, I always ask, are you sure you want to know? Because if you know something is not right, you have an obligation to fix it. If you are going to ignore what you find, then don't audit. You can at least plead ignorance. But once you know, it's hard to convince a government agency you were operating in good faith.

I was meeting with a group of people today to discuss employee engagement surveys. One of the people asked, "So, what if a company does the survey, and they fail?" Well, first, taking a survey and getting a poor result is not failure....if you use the information you get to make improvements. Companies only fail if they ignore the answers they get.

It's the same with employee satisfaction or engagement surveys. If you ask employees for their feedback, you can't ignore it. If you do, the employees figure you were just pretending to care what they think and the result is a further decrease in satisfaction and/or engagement. When you take these surveys, there are going to be negative responses. It's a given. No one and no company is perfect. However, you do need to go back to the employees and say, "Okay, here's what you liked and what you didn't. These are the specific issues we are going to tackle in the near term because they seemed to be the biggest concerns." Then get them involved in fixing the problems and keep them apprised of what is happening. Just the knowledge that the company listened and is trying to improve has a significant positive impact on employee motivation.

It's a waste of your time and your employees' time to ask them to complete a survey and then ignore what they tell you. If you don't want to know and don't want to take action, just don't ask in the first place.

The purpose of an audit or an employee survey is to make your company better. Properly used, these tools can not only improve compliance and engagement, but they can help you get better results in terms of profit--a win/win in my book.

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