Listen to the Data, not the Sales Pitch – the Case for Multi-Metric Staff Surveys
August 13, 2009
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 fairly pedestrian diagnostic.
Basic surveys lack insight and seldom engage key decision makers. In addition, “unique metric” surveys can be downright dangerous. The issue they test for may turn out to be the least of your problems. And they 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:
- Strategic Indicators
- Hot Spot Indicators
- Basic Indicators
Strategic staff survey metrics inform the executive about the ability of the business to address its strategic goals and priorities — those things that keep executives awake at night.
These are specifically compiled metrics to address issues that could help explain business sluggishness, underperformance or low morale.
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.
Check your survey
The overall message in this post is Listen to the data, not the sale pitch.
- Does your survey tool provide data at all three levels - Strategic, Hot Spot and Basic Metrics?
- Is the survey flexible enough to inform strategic priorities that might change from year to year?
- Is your executive blown away and energised by the metrics you place in front of them from the staff survey? Are they ready to take action?
If not, perhaps you need to add more Strategic and Hot Spot metrics.
Strategic staff survey metrics include items such as:
Transformational leadership profile
A metric that measures the ability of the business to drive difficult, complex change.
Levels of employee engagement
Based on factor analysis and statistical correlations, this metric also specifies drivers of engagement and the cost of disengagement. One client recently discover this cost was 16% of their annual payroll prompting massive resource commitment to support the identified drivers of engagement.
Employer of choice profile
Based on current research, this metric tells you how attractive you are as an employer to current and potential employees, and how well you deliver on their expectations.
Based on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, this metric provides an internal perspective on business sustainability.
Without Strategic Metrics from your staff survey, getting executive engagement in the results will be difficult.
Hot Spot Metrics
In this category, our clients typically ask us to assess issues such as:
This measures the effectiveness of business planning, performance management and change management.
This metric answers the question: Is there real engagement in these critical business functions or simply “tick the box” compliance?
This measures the effort that is committed to business improvement, and whether this effort is formal or informal.
This metric answers the question: Is our approach to innovation consistent with our strategic direction? Will it address our current strategic priorities?
Staff do not leave businesses, they leave managers they can’t work with. How effectively do your managers support staff across the business?
This metric answers the question: What is causing low (high) morale and high (low) staff turnover?
Gen Y profile
Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y often have difficulty working effectively with each other in various manager-employee configurations.
This metric 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. Generally they add value as an ongoing indicator of the business’s organic well-being in terms of teamwork, learning and development, basic work requirements and so on.
Don’t forget to check your Survey
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 inform strategic priorities which may change every year?
- Is your executive blown away by the metrics you place in front of them from the staff survey?
If not, you may need to add more Strategic and Hot Spot metrics.
We can assist you with survey design and implementation, interpretation of the results and working with your management team to identify strategies that address the results. Call us, we would love to talk to you.