Moving from results to action can be challenging. While there is often an inclination to jump to solutions when reviewing employee survey results, it's actually a great opportunity to re-engage employees in the process. We find that taking a more collaborative approach to acting on results by including employees in an ideation process creates a sense of ownership, enables creativity, develops trust and builds upon the momentum you've gained in sharing your results. Below are four steps to take after you have shared survey results.
Step 1: Narrow your focus
Before you even think about generating ideas for action we encourage you to narrow your focus. This means narrowing it down to 3 or 4 potential areas and then choosing just one to get started with. Where we see the most traction is when organizations focus on improving only one thing at a time, rather than attempting 4 or 5 and not doing any of them well. There is no "right" way to select a focus area. Although, it is important to consider both your results and your unique context and business needs. Generally, a focus area will be something that:
- has a strong impact on engagement, lower favorable scores and larger negative gaps to available internal and external comparisons.
- you are willing to put resources behind (money, effort, time, people)
- you feel optimistic about addressing and getting employees behind it
- where possible, is aligned with what your organization needs to achieve its goals and objectives.
If individual business units or departments prefer to select their own focus areas that are unique to their teams, in addition to the company wide focus, they would use the same criteria above to select their focus.
Step 2: Frame a "how might we" question
Once you have a focus, it is important to frame it as a forward focused question. We find it is helpful to frame the focus in a 'How Might We' question. Our goal with this framing is to make the focus area easy to think about as a question to solve.
Here are a few example 'How Might We' questions that Culture Amp has used:
- How might we better demonstrate our values on a day to day basis?
- How might we better act on new or promising ideas?
- How might we improve collaboration across organization boundaries?
- How might we better support individuals to feel that their workloads are reasonable?
- How might we make Culture Amp a place where we experience professional and personal growth?
The answers likely don't exist in the confines of the leadership team but across the organization. Leaders should try to avoid identifying solutions and instead empower managers and their teams to engage in the process.
Step 3: Understand the problem or opportunity more deeply
Once the leaders have framed the 'How Might We question', it can be quite valuable to involve employees across the business in exploring and discussing the underlying root cause. This can be done virtually or in a workshop setting where you ask employees to describe what they think are the underlying factors leading to the opportunity. Asking these 3 simple questions can help frame the problem.
1. What does this focus area mean to you? (i.e. what does acting on new or promising ideas mean to you?)
2. Where are we currently doing well? (i.e. what are examples of where we do or have acted on ideas?)
3. Where are we currently not doing well? (i.e. what are examples of where we fail to act on ideas?)
Step 4: Generate ideas and narrow to a few key actions
Holding cross-function ideation workshops can be a fun way to generate creative ideas for addressing your focus area. We encourage asking for volunteers so that you get employees who are truly invested in helping to address the challenge. Below is a brief summary of how we move through the ideation process.
- Begin by encouraging divergent thinking: Encourage employees to work solo to generate as many ideas as possible and then break into small groups of 4-5 and share their ideas. Getting participants up moving around using Post-Its, whiteboard markers, different spaces around a room and even drawing their ideas can help with the creative process.
- Start to converge on the best ideas: Encourage each of the small groups to pick the few ideas they like best and then to summarize the ideas. We love the approach of 'Newsflashing' ideas which comes from an innovation practice called Inventium.
- Take the time to prototype: Once each group has some really solid ideas, it is worth taking the time to flesh them out using a prototyping or "plan on a page" methodology. We find it is helpful to include:
- The idea headline (which problem is it solving?)
- How might this idea work?
- What would the first 3 steps look like to get it off the ground?
- Possible downsides?
- What resources might be required?
- Playback to the broader group: Give each group an opportunity to share their prototypes and get all involved in the workshop by having them vote on the top two or three ideas.
Below is a visual of the process we go through at Culture Amp:
From there, it's all about action; seeing through the commitments made in addressing employee feedback and checking on your progress with targeted pulse checks along the way.
By involving employees across the business, framing the opportunity as a forward-focused question and allowing time for divergent idea generation you give your organization the greatest chance to come up with truly creative ideas. If you want to know more about this process, feel free to reach out to our Customer Success team via firstname.lastname@example.org.