Two-way communication is a powerful way to give employees what they crave - feeling respected, understanding their purpose within the organization, and building relationships with others inside and outside their team. Surveys are a quick way to gather feedback, but they are even more powerful when there is a conversation ABOUT that feedback with employees. Here's a list of ways to ensure that a conversation about survey results is collaborative and more likely to lead to great ideas for future improvements.
- Post all or some of the data in advance to allow the more data-minded on your team to come prepared with ideas for what the data might mean and how to address it.
- Ask simple questions to collaborate with your team (e.g., "What is something that you see as being scored high?" "Why do you think the team scored that high?" "What is something you see as being scored lower?" "Why do you think that was scored lower?").
- Plan to listen for most of the meeting. Don’t “talk at” your team. Remember this meeting is intended to be a conversation, not a presentation.
- Don’t worry if the team doesn’t speak up as much as you’d like. Continue the conversation over time to reassure your team that you care about their feedback. For example: "In the survey in May our feedback indicated that collaboration between groups wasn't as strong as you'd like. Any thoughts about how we might further improve on collaboration?"
- If the group is quiet when you ask questions about the results, try putting them into pairs to get conversation going before you ask for larger group discussion.
- Schedule the conversation and let people know the clear purpose of the meeting in advance.
- Consider if there are others who should attend the conversation to provide perspective and support: your supervisor, a survey champion or expert to answer questions, etc.
- Take time to get comfortable with the data before you lead the meeting. During the meeting, if you don’t know the answer to someone’s question, be prepared to say, “I’ll get back to you.”
- If the survey you are discussing was confidential, address that right up front, “Do you think there are concerns about confidentiality?” If you get feedback, be prepared with simple talking points to reinforce how confidentiality was handled in your survey.
- When deciding on next steps, make sure you get to what the team will do to make progress on that focus area (decide on specific actions) and plan to follow up on progress on those actions in regular meetings.
- Keep the conversation focused. Put up a “parking lot” to capture ideas that go off-topic and distract from the discussion at hand.
- Follow up with anyone that was quiet in the meeting to get their feedback before making final decisions on next steps.
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