How to increase the practical impact of surveys and help managers work with the results?

In our conversations with clients, this topic has long appeared as one of the sore points in company surveys. You can work out the choice of the survey or internal communication tool yourself, but now you need the other side, i.e. managers and executives, to work with the results.

You can’t force them, you can’t buy everyone chocolate as an incentive. So how do we get managers to work with results?

Share results intensively

The greatest surprise in this area was that a large number of managers would actually like to work with the results, but no one sends them.

In our experience, 80% of all topics addressed in surveys have the team leader as the owner. This is where we see the paradox of the whole situation – those who should primarily see the results very often do not get them at all. And thus they are not able work more with them.

In Arnold you have the possibility to send the results to anyone in the organization. We strongly recommend sending the results to all managers – always for all the people for whom managers are responsible within the organization.

Working with results must be easy

Another stumbling block when working with results is the experience that it is sometimes easier to find out the information on your own than to try in vain to understand the report you have received. We’ve found several reasons why this may be the case:
  • Academic scales (e.g. “on a scale of 0 to 10, rate how happy you are here”). Sociologists who often create surveys sometimes forget that it is not sociologists who read the reports, but managers. The result needs be absolutely clear to managers, and they must be able to recognize immediately whether the result is good or bad (and therefore needs to be corrected). For the same reason, we don’t recommend using complex charts and benchmarks – you’ll often confuse managers instead of helping them.
  • Readability of outputs – not every manager automatically knows how to read complex reports. Reports should be a shortcut between results and the action that follows. If the reports you send are not very intuitive, give managers training on how to work with the results.
  • Language mutations – as trivial as it seems, there are a lot of expat managers who get results they don’t understand. Arnold offers a so-called multi-language mode, which allows you to create reports in a language other than the one in which the data was collected.

Find "sponsors"

A smart idea that can help you significantly is to find a sponsor for each survey, ideally someone from the company’s management. Is your CEO planning a change and needs input from employees? Do the research for them (or in cooperation with them).

Our experience shows that the best surveys run in companies where the top management is involved in the design and selection of topics or questions. It’s not always easy, but the investment is worth it.

Focus on what impacts on business

This advice is not circular reasoning. It’s more of a warning not to get bogged down in detail and then not see the forest because of the trees. Because if you want to make sure that your research will have a real business impact, you need to first clarify what you want to see in the report and then start creating the conversation. We recommend this procedure:

  • Choose a survey topic, ideally with a sponsor.
  • Draw the report and its sections. Each section should have its own recipient and message.
  • From each section, bring the questions into the conversation.
  • Refine the conversation so that it works together well.
  • Collect data, send out results.
  • Select report recipients who need to take action based on the results (perhaps they have bad results) and call them to see if they need help.

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