Heartbeat recognises that whilst clients are looking for a more real-time, transparent and simple to use pulse survey, they often use this alongside the annual engagement survey. What Matt describes below is a fictional thought provoking story based on real encounters he has had. This should help you think about how to best use your annual results for your business.
‘Jane called me up and said let’s go for coffee and talk about some ‘opportunities’ she had in her organisation. Over a latte, Jane described how following the annual engagement survey results she and the team had begun to put together a plan on how to respond to the results. In the action plan she had included a couple of workshops with employees and key HR colleagues to help understand what the results meant. This all sounded reasonable, except this conversation was taking place three months after Jane put the plan together and things had not gone how the team expected!
Firstly, the leadership team had a different reading of the results and, because Jane had only consulted a few employees, the leadership had ridden roughshod over her insights suggesting they weren’t representative. This ultimately meant the actions and ideas proposed were changed. Then employees didn’t respond positively to the actions, which were rolled out to solve the issues raised in the survey – in Jane’s words they weren’t ‘going along with them’ and felt they had come from ‘above’.
So Jane looked a little frustrated and wanted to know how I could help!’
Listening to Jane caused me to think back to when my dad was a head teacher of a large secondary school in Leeds. He faced many of these ‘opportunities’ and would often talk about the need to truly engage his staff in his plan for the school. His thinking was quite simple. Involving people in shaping the outcomes would lead to them ‘feeling’ included which more often than not would mean they would do what was necessary to achieve the outcome.
So I proposed this simple process to Jane – with one addition. The addition was to first of all gain insight from our Heartbeat survey. This means working with employees to get ‘under the skin’ of how they feel and why and asking additional questions to understand the results from the annual survey. For example, what do they mean when they say line managers don’t communicate well? Is it about skill, will or both? With true representative insight we can then go back and share with the leadership in a way that shows we have ‘got’ the issues and with a strong sample, it makes it harder for them to challenge the insight. Then the key is to get the leaders to propose outcomes not process – ‘we want all line managers to be recognised as good communicators’. Armed with the outcomes we can then go and involve employees in helping to shape how we achieve the outcomes so that they ‘feel’ involved and are therefore much more likely to make the changes that are necessary. A conversation that leads to action.
Back to reality – following a couple of real conversations we had with a business going through a similar situation, our advice was taken and we supported them with achieving the outcomes required to address the results. Their achievements have been fantastic with anecdotal intelligence and the quarterly Heartbeat sample improving, which shows employees have appreciated the way they’ve been included and are now helping make the actions happen.
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