Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Make Data Work For You

The survey business has many faces, from the simple Survey Monkey polls to the advanced technology sites with  indepth statistical analysis reports only trained experts can understand. The former will always have a place in organizations. Companies can gravitate to these types of polling surveys because they are cheap and many think merely focusing on low scores in a pie chart  is the pathway to better a company. Unfortunately for the companies, this is never the case. There is a big difference between polling a company to find out what percentage of people are happy and using a sophisticated survey tool to develop prioritized action plans for each workgroup/manager.

Diagnostic tools that are built strictly for business transformation will ALWAYS provide better results than those that can also be used to find the percentage of students who prefer chicken nuggets to hot dogs in the cafeteria. Businesses require three competencies:
  1. A great analytical tool built specifically for organizational analysis
  2. Competency in in analysis, change management, alignment
  3. An implementation plan that will breed success.
Be innovative. These skills and tools must be learned, tested, and adapted for clients. If there is one thing you must remember about surveys, it is that data is easy to get, but change from data is not.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brainstorming for Survey Design

Force field Analysis is a wonderful brainstorming tool to elicit from your survey team members the key drivers and barriers of our organization. Force Field Analysis involves listing, and then examining, the factors that can help implement the change and those that can hinder it. This lays the groundwork for creating the survey's Critical Success Factors and items. Force Field analysis is based on the law of physics that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. A state of equilibrium is established between these two sets of contending forces. Change one force on either side and the situation changes-unless met by a new contrary force of equal strength.

This analysis technique is more than a decision-making technique. When used creatively , it identifies, for your organization, the key drivers to get you where you want to be (your Main Thing) as well as your barriers of getting there.
Here are the four steps for sucessful Force Field Analysis:
STEP 1: Identify the Main Thing on a flip chart on the far right and your present state on the left.

STEP 2: With a brainstorming technique, starting on the left side, go around the room and offer ideas how to go from where you are to the MT. All ideas are written down without any dialogue and keep adding ideas until each member passes.

STEP 3: Now identify the barriers you feel that would prevent you from reaching the goals of the MT for each of the drivers.

STEP 4: Make a list of all drivers and barriers on a clean paper, which list will be your guide in identifying the Categories, Factors and Items. Each of the “drivers” or “restrainers” will be in corporate into the survey design. Each of the items are directly correlated to the success of achieving the corporate vision.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is a 25% Response Rate OK?

At the risk of being controversial, the following myth needs to be debunked:

"A 25%  response rate is OK."

For organizational comprehension, action planning, strategy defining, its unusable. A 25% response is terrible. It speaks volumes about either the culture your working in, poor presurvey communication, no reward for taking the survey, no visioning about how to get to a critical 80% response level, lackluster management commitment, and maybe 10 other flaws in the survey process.
If your intent is to get a pulse, than I might soften my stance, but who wants a pulse if it doesn't even tell you if the patient is doing more than just breathing, How does a pulse help guide a professional consultant trying to blueprint a clients to better profitability. IT DOESN'T! Unreliable data results.
Survey taking is a business, Its serious and must be taken seriously. A failure might well have negative feedback implications, and for a consultant, potentially devastating to their reputation. My best advice, don't do it if you don't know what your doing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Designing Your Survey To Your Vision

"My bottom-line is what does the organization's management want to happen, then what needs to happen." might best be served in the survey design phase.

Try designing the survey questions based on visioning (i.e. "where do you want to be in 2013?") . The second comment is key, "how would you get there?". Have a brainstorming session using Contingency Diagrams, Force Field Analysis tools or any systems you have to draw out conversation about the current state - the existing barriers and strengths.

Once the client describes how to get to that vision,  add in open ended questions asking people to contribute or explain their experiences. You need a survey tool that can drive real client value used by consultants that understand survey analysis. Survey analysis using diagnostics is not a skill that is intuitive.

From survey results, the consultant can see which workgroup has developmental needs in order to contribute to the vision blueprint. Every question asked in the survey is directly correlated to the vision so improving the scores of any question by any workgroup is "continuous improvement" to the vision.

Not to forget the real power of analysis. Unlimited demographic slicing, cross tab within groups, unlimited comparing of groups and more is a key consultant's ally . If your survey diagnostic engine can function like an in depth market study, you have unlimited ability to find the misalignments. Correlation analysis, histograms, gap perception tools, value chain analysis, and alignment analysis tools are the keys to understanding how to really help clients.

Look for tools that have been designed and built by consultants. I'm not promoting what we do--I am only stating a fact. You know, the "until you walk in my shoes...".

If you really look and compare, all basic functionality of survey tools are the same. They collect data online, plug that data into a SQL database and then display results in bar charts for your analysis. The add on features for analysis aids should be your concern. If you are expecting survey tools to give you value, simply ask your vendor if the analysis engine has been built by OD consultants.

So, end of point. Consultants need skills and training in survey design, analysis and meaningful action blueprinting if they really want to gain a mastery of using surveys with clients. Consultant misfeasance in use of survey tools and results is alive and well; hence the naysayers of consultants about surveys.

Survey use can be the genesis of the best consulting experience for both clients and consultants.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vital Conditions For Coaching Success

Establishing an open and honest conversation between the Coach and Manager is vital to their mutual success. If the Manager approaches a coaching conversation with fear, then that fear (and even more dangerous – the fear of retribution) will be interwoven into the fabric of the entire experience.
For coaching conversations to be successful, both parties need to see feedback as an opportunity to explore what elements will contribute to future success, and the basis of coaching will be strategies for successfully getting there. If fear erodes the conversations, trust and openness cannot be built – even when both parties have the best intentions in mind. This team effort must be focused on how to create environments that break from the past and allow connectivity and positive conversations to flow between the parties. Once this Coaching experience yields success between Manager and Coach, then the same experience can be replicated between the Manager and their Direct Reports – creating a positive ripple effect in the organization.

Suggested Questions for Coaching the Manager

1. How would you describe your accountability for coaching the people in your Department?

2. What percentage of your time do you think should ideally be spent coaching?

3. What percentage of your time do you actually spend coaching?

4. How would you characterize the link between development and performance?

5. How receptive to coaching are the people who report to you?

6. What are barriers or hindrances to coaching do you encounter?

7. What support would you need to enhance your coaching effectiveness?

8. How could the coaching you receive be improved?

9. What are the key questions we should explore in the session on coaching we are planning?

10. What other subject should we cover in the session?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

HR Happiness Survey

How can you expect HR to serve as the company engagement leader responsible for initiating a plan of "engaging" the People, when even HR might not be engaged themselves?

How and why can I say that?
Five years ago I conducted a Human Resource Happiness Survey in Trinidad (of all places) and got some rather startling results. Of course, that reflects the culture of a place 15 miles from Venezuela but being curious, I collected additional responses from HR folks in Connecticut - wow, was I stunned! The scores were the same. It appears that HR, no matter what country, can be treated like the gum on the bottom of the corporate shoe.
In 2006, out of 131 HR professionals, training folks, managers, even officers surveyed, only 66% say the CEO consults with HR about employee issues. What's really startling was the perception that only 60% of managers felt that HR is a valuable resource in driving worker productivity. What's absolutely wild is that of the 131 surveyed, only 46% said those same managers are doing a good job in motivating their people. Who's poking the eyes out of who?
That was 5 years ago, but the Toolbox for HR and SurveyTelligence are interested to see if corporate USA, and the rest of the world, are finally beginning to appreciate the great contribution HR is making to profitability and business performance. So we built a another HR Happiness survey. From the results, we intend to create a discussion forum about your responses, feelings your career choice being HR (if you are in HR), your frustrations, experiences, aspirations and value to your employer and yourself and whatever else. It's time to sound off! Step up and be heard!

This survey is for everyone. Please click the link below and take the HR Happiness Survey...or will it be known as the "HR Miserable Survey"? You don't need to be just HR. Write whatever you wish in the open ended questions. If you give us an email address in the last open ended question, we will send you a report of our findings.

Consultants Need More Than Just Focus Groups

For centuries advisors used the art of communication with Kings, Captains, Pharoes, Presidents, Dictators, Corporate Leaders to understand the basic underlying issues creating chaos in a culture, country, organization. How else would you learn? The art of conversation, the probing, twisting, turning over of ideas, and not to be jaded, but through the lens of one person. Ahh, lets get several people together and have more probing conversations. This new initiative was called a Focus Group. Oh boy, a new dilemma. How do you sort the most important response from the most common responses? How about conflicting opinions? Who is right and who is wrong? Do these opinions or perception really represent the cause of chaos? Who really hates who and who is telling the truth? Anyone who can actually sort, identify and cope with these issue can be my advisor!
For centuries, the belief was that oral communication between people had evolved as the best way for consultants to learn and advise clients on how to rebuild or form a new culture. Judith Glaser has written several best seller books on the art of communication to create a "WE culture". This communication stuff really works, but it's slow, impacts a small group at a time, not sure if it really changes inbred behaviors, and lasts only as long as your temper or patience lasts. Plus it's only a 1 to 1 relationship. This takes weeks, maybe months.
Maybe more is needed than just one-on-one conversation, or even a focus group of a dozen to really understand the "heartbeat' of the people, or the "pulse"of the business.

Technology, with advanced web based capabilities and powerful SQL back end databases have changed the entire science of learning through communication. Regardless of the survey questions asked- either designer or off the shelf- the survey engine that "spits out the results" can now give the analyst an instant x-ray picture, with analysis and action steps, for each individual workgroup. Imagine know key barriers and issues confronting each manager, each VP, each supervisor or even the CEO.
The output is precise and granular enough to see what's broken, in which department, workgroup or demographics, what action steps must be taken, and with statistical accuracy. These tools need to contain functions as: correlation analysis, automated reports, cross tab analysis, alignment measures by workgroup, performance variation gap analytics, etc. for instant analysis. These tools must be easy to use, graphic, and interactive, having the equivalency of a CAT scan. It must be able to view and analyze each organizational body part. Surveying a company is too expensive both in time and commitment to fail, and so is misdiagnosing actions for companies to take. To combine conversation and diagnostic data, you can now really create value.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Causes Variablility In Workforce Performance?

What causes variability in workforce performance, within similar workgroups, has been the source of much study but the research that resonates is “among the many variables that discriminate between highly productive workplaces and those that are unproductive, is the quality of the local workplace manager and his or her ability to meet a core set of employees’ emotional requirements.” Primarily, emotional conditions are described as those that meet basic human needs. Buckingham,M & Coffman,C. (1999). First Break all the Rules: What the world’s greatest managers do differently. New York:Simon and Shuster. Coffman, C. & Gonzalas-Molina,G. (2002). Follow this path: How the world’s greatest organizations drive growth by unleashing human potential. New York: Warner.

Our 12 years of research  as a survey consulting firms supports the hard evidence that variability of performance is predominant in most every organization. Why does one department outperform another? The answer is quite simple!

Each department has their own leader that has created the culture for that department in their own image. Usually this local culture is not the same culture declared in the corporate “value proposition”. It’s that simple.
The solution is having a strong corporate leader that has the insights, tools, will, and strategy that will assist each of the local managers in eliminating performance variability in their respective departments. Easy to say, hard to do; until now.

Here’s the ultimate goal. Each department delivers the best output possible, with primary focus on the “critical success factors" consistent with the leader’s stated mission. That means high performance execution of each workgroup, strategically linked to profitability and organic growth. It means eliminate lop sided delivery in the “value chain”; get that HEMI engine working on all 8 cylinders!

Thus, building workforce engagement falls squarely on the shoulders of the local manager and manager engagement falls squarely on the shoulders of the leader. It not trying to regulate humanity, but to build a “we” culture with a purpose of bringing out the best in people. It’s a people to people skill in communication; the growth of Employee Engagement as an operating principle.

Employee Engagement is the most researched management tool to understanding how to build a high performance culture; that managers need as much help as leadership can provide to bring this thinking to the departmental level. In a study of 2,178 business units from 10 companies, research evidenced that workforce engagement predicted levels of performance. Harter,J.K., Schmidt (2005, August). Employee engagement and business unit performance: A longitudinal meta-analytic study of casual direction

This relationship of leader-manager-worker is known as vertical alignment, (Dr. George Labovitz, Power of Alignment, 1997, Wiley) and is managed with ease with precise information.

In summary, high performing workgroups, with willingness, commitment and ability to effectively execute the leader’s vision, need a communication avenue to senior leadership, who has a willingness to meet the need. It all starts by the capture of information with extremely powerful survey analysis tools.