We all want to know what people think of us. If we are scared to ask, we are usually even more afraid of hearing the answer. This is also the case with organisations. Too afraid to ask their employees what they really think of their work culture, values and environment, many businesses rely on assumptions.

So, how do we get to the truth, how do we stop working on the basis of what we believe, and start dealing with what we know? How can we really ‘hear’ what people in the office think and feel about the organisation? How can we capture feedback in an objective and informative way that helps achieve the business goals? And importantly, how do we embrace and empower those who took the time to feedback to us?

Well of course, it’s the good old employee/climate survey. There’s certainly nothing new about this – it’s a method tried and tested across many organisations. However, in my view, the success of such surveys relies on what happens after the survey is fielded. How are the results analysed and turned into visible action to demonstrate to your people that you have listened to them and valued what they had to say?

When I worked for a large global PR firm, we were keen to engage with people and hear their honest feedback, but we had some anxiety about how we would deal with their feedback. We were concerned about what they might say, and worried that we would need to have all the answers.

So what did we do? We sat back with a cup of whatever and faced the results. In my experience, the data usually tells you what you already know. You just haven’t confronted it, dealt with it or said it out loud.

Once you’ve taken the plunge and fielded the survey, and braved the results, these simple steps will help you take visible, credible action:

1. Decide what areas of your business you need to improve on to achieve your business goals and then separate the urgent from the important/nice to have.

2. Feedback the results to everyone in a transparent, engaging and meaningful way – let your employees know you have heard them and value their feedback.

3. Give leaders and managers responsibility for improving year on year and, if you want, build this into their review and/or their reward.

4. Then respond and engage with your employees again – set up guiding coalitions across your office to come up with ideas and suggestions to improve their organisation – really empower them to deliver on their ideas and solve their own challenges.

This post was written by our People Partner Fiona Riley. For more information on how we help businesses transform their people strategies, email sophie@mh2021.mystagingwebsite.com