Listen to the data, not the sales pitch – the case for multi-metric staff surveys
- Big Data
- Human Resources
Visiting a client recently to discuss information needs from their next staff survey, I was asked the question “What do you think are the most important metrics we should be seeking from our staff survey?”
I think this is the wrong question. The most important metrics are the ones the data uncovers. And, if you are lucky, the data will uncover some blind spots too. In fact if it doesn’t do this you are probably using a pedestrian diagnostic.
Basic surveys lack insight and seldom engage key decision makers. “Unique metric” surveys can be downright dangerous. They measure something that is assumed to be important to you when, in fact, it may not be. They divert attention away from real issues and they can soon go out of vogue.
Multi-metric staff survey tools allow you to listen to the data, not the sales pitch. They provide three levels of metrics:
What exactly are “Strategic” metrics?
Strategic staff survey metrics inform the executive about the ability of the business to address its strategic goals and priorities – things that keep executives awake at night. They include items such as:
Without Strategic Metrics from your staff survey, getting executive engagement in the results will be difficult.
These are specially compiled metrics to address issues that could help explain business sluggishness, underperformance or low morale. In this category, our clients typically ask us to assess issues such as:
Accountability profile. This measures the effectiveness of business planning, performance management and change management
Answers the question: Is there real engagement in these critical business functions or simply “tick the box” compliance?
Innovation. This measures the effort that is committed to business improvement, and whether this effort formal or informal
Answers the question: Is our approach to innovation consistent with our strategic direction? Will it address our current strategic priorities?
Manager support. Staff do not leave businesses, they leave managers they can’t work with. How effectively do your managers support staff across the business?
Answers the question: What is causing low morale and high staff turnover.
Gen Y profile. Baby Boomers and Gen X managers often have difficulty working effectively with Gen Y staff.
Answers the question: How well are we supporting and nurturing these future leaders of our business?
These are the standard analyses conducted in every staff survey. They are the equivalent of the standard health check you might have when you buy a life insurance policy. Generally they add little value other than as an ongoing indicator of the business’s organic wellbeing in terms of teamwork, communications, learning and development, basic work requirements and so on.
Check your survey
The overall message in this newsletter is “Listen to the data, not the sales pitch”.
- Does your survey tool provide data at all levels – Strategic, Hot Spot and basic metrics?
- Is the survey flexible enough to be aligned each year with shifting strategic priorities of the business?
- Is your executive blown away by the metrics you place in front of them from the staff survey? If not, do you need to add more Strategic and Hot Spot metrics?