How to take action with your survey results

So you are looking through your employee engagement survey results... things could be better. But what do you do about it? Where do you start?

I was working with a client a few weeks ago that was facing these same questions. As they looked through all of their survey results they weren't quite sure what do to about it... where to start... what steps to take next.

I led them through a three-step process to develop preliminary action plans (their first steps forward):

  1. Conduct a Gap Analysis

  2. Prioritize Possible Solutions

  3. Develop Plans (focus on the golf balls)

I will go into depth (and provide tools) for all three of these steps in future posts (scroll to the bottom of this page for details), but let's focus on the overall process here.

Step 1: Conduct a Gap Analysis

To help generate solutions to address your survey results, you need to understand what direction you want to head in. This may be aligned to what your employees are asking for, or it may be slightly different as you deliberately shape the culture of your organization in a new direction. To do this, you need to define what you want the organization to look like in the future: grab a piece of paper, pick a time frame (two years is good if you haven't done this before), and brainstorm what you want the organization to be in the future. Set this paper off to your right. Then, get a new piece of paper and summarize the survey results; what are your employees saying about you now (this is your current state). Set this paper off to your left. Lastly, get a third piece of paper and brainstorm what you could do to get from the left to the right; from your current state to your desired future state. These solutions could be simple or complex... either way, come up with as many possibilities as you can!

Step 2: Prioritize Possible Solutions

OK, next step... it is time to take the list of solutions and prioritize them. There are many different ways to do this, but my favorite is to conduct an effort / impact analysis. To do that you need a new piece of paper; along the bottom write "effort" with an arrow pointing to the right; along the left side of the page write "impact" with an arrow pointing to the top. Now, draw a line down the center of the page (going both directions) so that you have created four quadrants on your paper. Once your paper looks (kind of) like the example below, it is time to plot your solutions; take each of them (that you brainstormed in Step 1) and assess the effort it would take to accomplish and the impact it would have on helping you achieve your desired future state.

Step 3: Develop Plans (focus on the golf balls)

There is a great story about a professor sharing a lecture with their students about time management that has to do with rocks, pebbles, and sand. If you have no idea what I am talking about, take a few minutes to check this video out (that uses golf balls, not rocks). As you are looking at your analysis from Step 2, focus on the golf balls: those solutions that will have the greatest impact on your organization. As you take this deeper look at the solutions, you will start to notice that items listed in Box 1 (Easy Effort, Major Impact) will be your quick wins. Those in Box 3 (Major Effort, Major Impact) will require plans to execute. Take your time in this step to build out the plans needed to move your organization forward.

Listening to your employees is the first, very important, step, but it is critical for you to take action with the feedback you have received. If you ever find yourself unsure of what to do, just follow these three steps. As I mentioned above, this is exactly the process I led a client through a few weeks ago and within a week they went raw survey data to preliminary action plans for their top 3 solutions to help them realize their desired future state.

I just covered the highlights in this post here, if you would like to dig into the details of any of these steps, just scroll to the bottom of this page to find those posts (and they all have downloadable tools you can use!).