#19 Flying Blind

While I was driving on the interstate, my all-digital dash went totally black. No speedometer, no gas gauge, no temperature gauge. Nothing!

Managing without an employee survey is like that – you really have no idea what your people are thinking. Where the hot spots are. Where the good spots are. Some things are obvious – one department is doing well, but you can feel the tension as you walk into another department. But some things are not so obvious – for example, differences of opinion by gender or age or length of service. Because of that, an employee survey is a “must have” for attracting and retaining the best and brightest.

At one of my clients, female millennials scored MUCH lower than male millennials in 7 critical dimensions, as shown in the chart: leadership, adaptability, engagement, cohesion, alignment, inclusion, and teamwork; the composite score was 24 percent lower. The CEO and leadership were not aware of this difference until the company took a survey, because their female millennials were spread throughout the organization. Once the leaders saw these results, they were able to take corrective action before they lost more of their up-and-coming leaders.

One caution: the mere act of taking the survey raises workforce expectations that leadership will do something with the results. If nothing happens, taking the survey will have a negative effect on morale and goodwill. Thus, before such a survey is even considered, leadership should commit to:

  1. Hold individual responses confidential,
  2. Share the survey results with the entire organization, and
  3. Take positive action based on the survey’s results.

This leadership commitment, with concomitant action, will help attract and retain the best and brightest. Why would someone want to leave your organization to go to a place that doesn’t care about them? And once the workforce realizes that they are being listened to, they can’t help but tell others about what a great place they’re working.

There are many organizational health surveys available. I’ll give you some hints about how to select one in next week’s blog.

Full disclosure – I’m one of the authors of Vantage Point organizational health assessment, which was developed and honed by 25 organizational development professionals in the Organization Development Network Oregon. You can see how it works on www.vantagepointsurvey.com

Gary Langenwalter


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