Why? Simply because it's likely not helping your business. It might even be hurting you.
Now, if I'm wrong and your survey and the process does build trust within the company, result in meaningful actions being identified and performed, and you see employee relations improve, congratulations. Don't bother reading further.
Over and over again I see examples of companies doing engagement surveys that amount to (at best) a wee bit of meaningful discussion at the senior leader level, and the box being checked for having done this. All too often I see businesses do harm with these because they don't report back the data to employees, the senior leaders fail to take ownership of the results, and an action plan that is meaningful and realistic (and one with 25 actions is not realistic) does no emerge. After a couple of rounds of this, employees grow to resent the charade and the relationship between leadership and employees takes a hit.
No wonder engagement hasn't increased meaningfully even after so much time and money going into surveys!
August was a big month for our family. Among the highlights, our oldest child entered kindergarten at a public school that is Montessori-based. The short story is that he LOVES it, which is notable because of the intense struggles he had in a much more traditional environment over the past two years. It is just fascinating to see the transformation, and I can't help but explore what has brought this about. Why does this school/classroom/teacher work so well for him?
I'm sure there are many reasons, and some of them (e.g., a break at home over the summer, general maturity) don't have anything to do with the school itself.
But there are key elements of this new environment that catch my attention. See if you find anything familiar with these.
Have you been secretly (or not so secretly!) cheering over recent articles about companies like Accenture and Deloitte ditching their performance reviews? These are probably the most universally dreaded job function and with good reason: they often have little value, are awkwardly navigated, and require ridiculous amounts of time to prepare.
Providing feedback in meaningful, healthy ways drives performance and supports high morale, so we cannot eliminate reviews entirely. Although the headlines sound dramatic, other companies aren’t abandoning them, but they are reinventing them. A Harvard Business Review article explains how Facebook approached modifying their review process. You can reinvent yours as well.
So what are alternatives to the 6-page form that takes as many hours to complete? Here are two models to consider.
What? Fast track a new grad to the C-suite in 5 years? Are you crazy?”
Promoting a new grad to the C-suite in 5 years likely is crazy. I get it. But asking a new grad to wait 5-7 years for a promotion is just as crazy.
Promotions bring internal and external affirmation that we are doing good work and that the company values us. Even for the more shy and reserved employees, activities like calling our family to share the news and posting our new job title on LinkedIn are just plain FUN.
When was the last time you had a promotion? What kind of boost did that give you? Did you give yourself a chance to bask in it, at least a little? (I hope so!)
Our historic model of giving promotions was that they were sparse. An employee received a handful of promotions during their career and often even one-step promotions came with notable increases in responsibility and compensation. This was the model everyone has known. If you wanted to climb the career ladder, you may have to get the promotions by taking a new job with a new employer because there weren’t many opportunities for promotion in your company. So, some employees left in order to get the promotion elsewhere, but the risk of loosing seniority, retirement benefits and more were powerful to keep people where they were.
That was then. Today, it’s a different game.
This article Why You Hate Work by Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project came out last week and I feel compelled to write about this because it is such a powerful, yet simple, piece with insights and suggestions based on data and research.
For anyone who has responsibility for managing or leading others, this is a critical read, especially while asking, “What kind of environment do I and our company create for our employees?”
Here is what I found to be one of the most striking parts of the article. From a 2013 survey done by The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review, 70% of employees cited that they do not have regular time for creative or strategic thinking. 70% makes for a lot of employees who can only operate on the tactical level, perhaps like the proverbial hamster in the wheel. On one hand, this figure did not surprise me because I have certainly experienced this myself and often seen it in others. But the impact of this intrigues me. What are we missing if so few of our employees have this time? If more employees had more creative or strategic time, what problems might they solve? What new ideas might they generate? How might we outperform our competition?