Listen, talk… then act
One of the worst mistakes managers can make is to raise employees’ expectations, then fail to follow through with a meaningful response.
When managers tell staff that their views are important and urge them to speak up, they must then listen to what their staff are telling them and act on it.
All too often, the only visible response to an employee opinion survey is the communication of very topline results alongside a short message from the CEO thanking staff for participating.
Management may well take action on issues raised through the survey. However, such initiatives often come to fruition months later and are not then identified as responses to the survey feedback.
theblueballroom has supported a range of companies in communicating employee opinion survey findings at single sites, nationally, internationally and globally. However, whatever the size of your organisation, our advice is the same: the right response to upward communication is dialogue, not downward communication.
Yes, companies need to communicate topline results across different teams and functions so that employees have a shared sense of how colleagues locally and elsewhere in the company are feeling.
For example, for four successive years we presented topline site results to employees at a company’s European regional headquarters, alongside results for the HQ’s global business unit and its global group.
The key to credible communication here is those much claimed but rarely demonstrated values of ‘openness and honesty’. So don’t just publish the results. Get relevant senior managers to comment candidly on them. Identify key areas for concern and communicate the management’s commitment to address them.
However, the majority of issues will be at a team or department level. These are best explored by focus groups of around 10 people, which are empowered rather than led by managers.
Our approach is to provide workshops for managers and focus group leaders to help them provide group members with direction and ensure that their proposals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
However, it is not enough to address issues – you must also be ‘seen’ to be addressing them. So provide employees at all levels with regular bulletins about progress on survey-related initiatives.
Finally, a week before your next survey is due to start, remind everyone about the issues that were raised by the last survey and what has been done since. Higher survey participation rates and better engagement results need to be earned…
theblueballroom is a specialist internal communications agency in Surrey, helping organisations succeed through effective employee communication.