Right about now, you probably feel like a survey ninja. You know what types of questions to ask, and you know all about adding in company values and using open ends. And you’re not just ready to share survey feedback but also ready to act on both the positive and negative comments. But before you earn your survey ninja stars, ask yourself, "Do I know how to prioritize which pieces of survey feedback I should act on first?"
As crazy as this sounds, we’d rather you don’t do a survey at all than send it out to employees with no plan to respond or act on the results. After all, as the magazine Fast Company is quick to point out, "If you have asked for feedback before and done nothing with it, employees will be distrustful and suspicious." But knowing how to tackle that feedback is key to letting employees feel heard.
If you field employee surveys, be ready for one of these two types of feedback:
Smaller, easier challenges: These include concerns like overflowing trash cans or not having the right type of computer or technology, concerns that are generally simpler to solve.
Bigger, difficult challenges: The primary issues you’ll have to address here are recurring interpersonal issues, managerial style, or disengagement with job roles.
How and when you choose to tackle these challenges will speak volumes to your employees.
Acting on one or two smaller challenges immediately is a great way to show your team that you’re following through on their feedback. Because these can be tackled quickly, acting on them shows your commitment to change and encourages your employees to continue answering the regular surveys.
Bigger, difficult challenges are harder to address but will have longer-term impact on your company culture. From the first moment you get survey feedback, start thinking about how to address these issues.
Don’t worry about not knowing how to act immediately. The fact that you’re addressing the smaller challenges buys you time with your team to create an action plan for these issues. Just don’t forget to continue being transparent about the problems and open about the action plan you’re creating to resolve these bigger issues.
BEST PRACTICES ON HOW TO ENGAGE EMPLOYEES
You’ll often get great feedback in your surveys. Rather than running solo with it, encourage your employees to offer their own solutions. A simple three-step process to do this includes:
- Thank the respondent: Always show your gratitude for any type of response. Responding to surveys may not be customary for your employees, and saying "thanks" shows that you value that feedback.
- Acknowledge their feedback: Tell them that you understand their concerns and that you see why the issue is troublesome. When you empathize with others about a situation, your employees will be more likely to open up about the issue at hand.
- Ask them for a solution: Employees sometimes know how they would fix a problem. Asking them how they would fix a problem further captures their feedback and lets them be part of the solution. If you have private messaging enabled (see Chapter 14!), this is a great time to use it to probe for answers anonymously.
When you follow this process, you start creating a culture around employee-led change. By asking employees to not just bring up challenges but also brainstorm solutions, you empower them to take the lead and institutionalize the value of proactive action.