So, do you want to know how things are going at your company? Whether your employees are really engaged and whether your managers are leading effectively? If so, the best way to find out is simple: ASK – with a follow-up survey.
Ask your employees, teams, customers, and other stakeholders what’s going well and what needs improvement. And then be prepared to not only listen, but to respond.
Once you uncover the treasure-trove of information from this feedback about what’s going well and what needs improvement, you’re well on your way to better leadership, better teamwork, better service, and better results. But why stop there? Now that you know where you are, you want to determine where you’re going and how you’ll get there.
- Which professional goals will help you achieve your vision?
- What steps will you take to achieve your goals?
- How are you holding yourself accountable for meeting these goals?
- How do you know that your plan is working?
- Do you need to chart a different course?
The best way to answer the above questions is to ASK…. again.
After investing the time, energy, and money into an Employee Engagement Survey or 360 Assessment, nothing is more important than utilizing the resulting data and comments to create meaningful change and show employees that you are listening and acting upon their feedback. It’s the icing on the cake, the last phase in the cycle, the crucial complement to the original assessment: a Follow-Up Survey!
In addition to interpreting the results from the feedback and setting professional goals through action planning, follow-up surveys are one of the most effective tools to use to track your changes and chart your progress. Three to six months after the feedback has been received, you should ask for feedback again, specifically on the areas you’re targeting for improvement. Through the following steps, individual leaders and organizations can make the most of their feedback results to measure their subsequent improvement over time:
- Keep it Short & Simple: We recommend keeping follow-up surveys to fewer than five questions which combine both general improvement questions for research and 1-3 questions from the 360 assessment that were specifically targeted for improvement. Keeping it short and sweet and to the point will make your stakeholders appreciate that it takes only minutes to complete, likely leading to a boosted response rate!
- Ask the Important Questions: If you’re keeping it short, make sure the few questions you do select are the ones that matter. Maybe this means that the questions chosen for follow-up are the items that received the most unfavorable ratings in the assessment, or perhaps the questions are simply the most highly valued in the company. Either way, it is important to choose questions for which measuring change will provide meaningful insight, rather than those that will simply artificially inflate results or offer empty data.
- Choose the most appropriate stakeholders to provide feedback: If your stakeholders are the same ones who provided you with feedback months earlier, fantastic! You’ll now have metrics that show how much more effective they believe you’ve become. But organizations are changing faster than ever; people come and go, priorities shift, and in 3-6 months, you might’ve taken on a new role. Now what? Our research shows that leaders can include different stakeholders to provide feedback in their follow-up survey process. That’s right – even when those providing feedback are different from the ones who rated you earlier, the feedback is still very valuable. Not only will you gain insight into new perspectives, but you’ll be conveying a very positive message to your new team: “I care what you think, and I strive to continuously improve!” After all, who doesn’t want a boss with a growth mindset?
- Change up the Scale: Follow-up surveys measure change. This means that we want to scrap the standard 5-point Likert scale that traditionally measures effectiveness and give raters a chance to use a scale that really indicates whether the organization or leader has improved over time. We recommend a 7-point continuum scale to indicate how much improvement has been achieved (or realized): with anchors ranging from “Significantly less effective than before (-3)” to “Significantly more effective than before (+3),” set around a 0 which indicates no noticeable difference.
- Allow Comments: Just like with a standard 360 or Employee Engagement Survey, qualitative data can often provide even more valuable insight than quantitative data. Don’t get us wrong, we love the numbers! But the comments provided from the raters who are drawing from their own experiences can really have an impact. Opportunities for open-ended items allow raters to say exactly what they’ve witnessed (good and bad), since the initial assessment and offer meaningful suggestions.
The follow-up survey is a fantastic way to keep the momentum going – and make sure that the changes being made are having a positive impact on all involved.