23 December 2007

Tools of the devil - employee surveys

I enjoyed Chris Bailey's rant on one of the "idiotic things that organisations do" - employee surveys:

"If you really want to know what your employees think about their work, their managers, their colleagues, and most importantly, their relationship to the organization, step out from behind your desk and start asking questions face-to-face. Stop relying on surveys and making ritual sacrifices to the gods of quantitative measurement."

I agree. While some surveys may have their place, too often I suspect they end up as a routine and superficial anxiety-management tool for an organisation. Perhaps the anxiety may arise from an inability to conceive of and engage in certain kinds of conversations, or it may arise from need to be seen by peers to use 'best practice'.

The sad thing is that talking with people naturally leads to creative solutions, while many survey reports naturally lead to inertia. (And perhaps that's a further kind of anxiety avoided - the fear of the kind of change that makes personal demands on 'leaders', not just on 'employees'.)

Technorati: internal communications, employee engagement, organisation


Chris said...

Andrew, your own thoughts wonderfully complements my argument. The employee survey isn't really done to achieve a solution...it *is* the solution for too many organizations.

How many times do we see organizations utilize a survey as a singular blunt instrument hauled out a couple of times per year? Instead, what would happen if the employee survey was just one tool in a leader's multi-varied utility belt?

What are your thoughts?

Andrew said...

Or what if the employee survey was wasn't a leadership tool, but an employee tool? Or what if there were no surveys, but merely a process of continuous employee inquiry?