In order to achieve accurate and actionable results from surveys, certain critical success factors must be present. Absent these factors, the endeavor will fail miserably at one or more levels. For example, the results will be unusable or inaccurate, management will lose credibility, resources will be squandered, and/or the organization will be worse off than it was before the survey.
In my upcoming booklet on developing and implementing effective surveys, I identify eight critical success factors for an effective survey process. Here are three of them:
1. Answers the “What’s in it for me?” question
The biggest motivator for adults that I know of is enlightened self-interest, also known as “what’s in it for me?” The word ME is key: prospective participants must see the benefit that accrues to them personally, not to their team or their organization or their family members. With a plethora of competing demands on people’s time, you have to let them know why it’s in their interest to respond to your survey.
2. Management’s promise to act on the results
One of the biggest credibility wreckers I know is asking people to take the time to respond to a survey, then doing nothing with the results. Conducting a survey creates expectations that something will happen. While responding doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing to make all suggested changes, taking action is NOT optional. Two of the questions management must ask and answer truthfully are, “What are we willing to do with the responses?” and “What will we be able to do with the responses?” If the answer to either question is “Nothing,” do everyone a favor and stop right there. Personally, I will not undertake a survey in an organization whose leaders refuse to promise to take action on the survey’s results.
3. Quality of the questions
The quality and reliability of the survey items are critical to your ability to elicit accurate and actionable information from the respondents. The biggest mistakes I see people making with surveys are related to the questions they ask, which is why I spend so much time addressing this issue in my upcoming booklet. Quite simply, if your questions are not phrased in ways that enable participants to provide useful answers to the issues you are trying to address, you are wasting everyone’s time as well as squandering the organization’s resources and credibility.
For a preview of what will be in the booklet, I invite you to read my article Little Known Secrets of Effective Employee and Customer Surveys.
What questions do you have about how to make surveys more effective? Let me know!
© 2010 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.