The incident got us talking about communication and assumptions. The initial exclamation from my colleague hadn’t given enough information; and on first glance it did look very much like Wendy had collapsed. It was only when I got up and went to look for myself, and when we waited and watched that we saw that Wendy was okay and it wasn’t someone from another office.
We are very good at making assumptions; we’re great at processing information quickly so that we can make decisions and take action. But there’s a problem with assumptions. As the old adage goes, ‘to assume, makes an ass out of u and me’. Using them as the basis for making decisions can result in decisions that don’t actually fit reality; solutions that miss the mark and actions that head off in the wrong direction.
When we run a survey, we gather a huge amount of information. The data can be overwhelming and it could be easy to make assumptions to try to understand what the data is telling us and develop actions that address what we assume the data is telling us. Of course, we organise the data and provide reports that make it easier to see the wood for the trees. But, if we really want to have a positive impact on levels of engagement we must stay open to seeing the further questions and explanations that sit behind the data; to look beyond the obvious and seek to understand what might be causing the perceptions and responses that the survey reveals. If we actively avoid assumptions then we can develop actions and solutions that will directly address and have a positive impact on the areas for action that are critical for improved business performance.
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