In my work with executives, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my craft and increase the value I bring to my clients. I have adopted an annual ritual of administering a customer survey to all my clients. It’s always eye-opening. There’s no better way to learn. Over my years, I’ve learned that there is an art and science associated with administrating effective surveys or interviews.
I’ve developed a five-step strategy for soliciting feedback. As a leader, you can gain a lot from feedback. But the quality and validity of the feedback you receive depend on how well feedback channels are administered. The first step is to create a roadmap for success.
1. Decide on a focus area
Conducting an effective survey or feedback process involves a lot of careful planning. Before distributing feedback, it’s important to be focused. Don’t try to assess every nook and cranny of your organization or performance. Choose one specific area that you want to dig into and gain feedback on. Do you want to understand employee engagement? Do you want to evaluate the results of a specific project or initiative? Which employees should participate in the survey?
2. Align the feedback to business metrics
If surveys or sessions aren’t carefully designed, you’ll end up misinterpreting the data and results. This will cause you to make the wrong decisions. According to a report in Harvard Business Review, as many as three-quarters of the questions included in workplace surveys have no clear link to job performance or any business outcome!
3. Involve stakeholders
Don’t attempt to build a feedback loop alone. Rally your troops. When designing feedback loops and deciding on how the survey will be distributed and administered, it's crucial to involve key stakeholders. When you involve stakeholders in the planning process, you are more likely to establish trust, secure buy-in, and gain commitment.
4. Communicate process
After you finish the planning phase, the details of the survey should be readily and widely communicated to all participants. Participants should be well aware of the process. They should know the time period involved, whether responses will be confidential, the intended results, and any other important details.
5. Focus on the “why”
It’s critical to communicate the purpose and intent of the process in a way that resonates with your employees. Employees must know what’s at stake for them. Reuven Gorsht, CEO of MoveSnap and former Global Vice President of Customer Strategy at SAP, has explained, “Your communication should start first and foremost with answering the question ‘why’ and make it about them, not about the benefits that leadership will gain. Lead all communications with a clear purpose, call and belief that articulates what’s in it for the individual employee and why they should care.”
As a leader, you’re, like me, trying to constantly improve your craft. There’s no more powerful mirror into your effectiveness than feedback. As Bill Gates reminds us, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner