It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information available at your fingertips. And more information often doesn’t result in more effective action. Think about this: we lose up to 75% of the information we learn if we don’t use it immediately, according to Unsettle.org. How much of what you learn do you actually use?
Limiting information sources to the ones that provide the most-valuable data is crucial. And we shouldn’t forget about using qualitative methods as well, for everything from measuring employee satisfaction to performance reviews to decision-making.
Focus on Quality Data
It’s tempting to collect information for its own sake. It’s easy to confuse gathering facts with “getting things done.”
For example, you might give a once-a-year questionnaire to your employees to gauge satisfaction. You want to be thorough so you ask about every topic you can think of — vacation time, technology, colleagues, passion for work, etc. Then you spend hours poring over the reports, trying to glean meaning from the mountain of data. But this approach has problems.
Employees tend to only consider what’s happened recently, instead of over the entire year
You might also get a skewed portrayal of how your employees feel because only those willing to put the time into answering a long questionnaire will respond
Your employees might think you don’t really care about whether they’re engaged if you’re asking what they think only once a year
You can’t respond to the data quickly because it takes time to process it
Instead, consider using a survey tool that asks employees what they think about one or two questions on a weekly basis. Generate clear, specific questions that address current issues and make sure you’re switching questions regularly. This way you’ll have a clear, immediate response and can react accordingly.
As the field of analytics expands, it’s tempting to be sucked into a management style drive solely by data. We like the rationality and cold logic of numbers.
However, not everything that’s important is measurable. Using subjective methods gets results too.
Putting in the Time
One of the ways you can find out more about employees is through simply spending more time with them. If you want a performance review to be more effective or you want to demonstrate that you care about employee satisfaction, one-on-one meetings are the way to go. Investing time in your employees demonstrates your commitment.
Being present in day-to-day office life also provides rich qualitative data. You can see who’s getting along with people and who isn’t. You can see how engaged employees are in their work. Are they only completing highly structured, mandatory tasks, or are they working independently and devising their own solutions?
The same thing goes for client feedback. Don’t just collect surveys — talk to your customers about their experience. A conversation with a single customer who expresses specific problems with your product could make all the difference.
The reality is that you need both qualitative and quantitative data to make sound decisions. But with the increasing trend of using only objective information, it might be easy to forget about valid, qualitative information.