The one with the bullet proof toolkit

I recently took part in a workshop involving a group of senior managers working through their feedback from an external culture survey and audit. The day started with the group’s leader reminding them of the process they had been through, what had happened since the survey itself took place and how the scores had been compiled. All good so far.

It then moved on to one of their number going through the details of the response rates, the scoring and how their benchmarking within a comparison group had taken place and finally lead up to them being rated within the comparison group.

I must confess a wry smile as the group spent at least 10 minutes focused on how better management of the process and increasing the response rate could improve their score and reflect an improvement on the position they had achieved. The manager leading this session did well to discuss the options but kept them coming back to rather than trying to game manage the process would they not be better placed to consider the result they had achieved and what that ACTUALLY meant for their organisation.

It was at this point that he revealed a piece of information that had immediate and profound significance to me but the impact didn’t appear to hit home with the group for some time. The piece of information was that the final score achieved was based on two elements: the first was the survey results and the second a third party assessment of tools and processes that impact the culture and people of the organisation.

Why should this have profound significance you may ask? (Go on then…..ask). Well it turned out that  they had received significant commendation for the audit of tools and process. The overall score had been moderated down by the results of the survey. Yes….that’s right. The tools are great but it’s in the adoption and application of the tools that the opportunity for improvement exists!

There it was – in black and white…externally validated and bench-marked…no one could look at HR, OD, Comms or similar and challenge the toolkit, this was actual data that showed the focus needed to be not on reinventing, refitting or changing the wheel but actually was just about managing and leading the organisation using the fabulous toolkit provided.

It was about 40 minutes later that someone vocalised this penny drop and an uncomfortable silence enveloped the room…followed by a display of challenge, support and a commitment to improve that wasn’t about finger pointing, fad chasing or rolling out initiatives it was just about a group of very capable managers and leaders taking ownership.

5 hours later we went to the pub 🙂

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The one with the bullet proof toolkit

  1. Ben Morton

    This gave me a wry smile too Rob. I’ve seen many a staff survey where some extreme carrot and stick tactics have been used to get the response rates up. Surely the very fact that a high % of staff don’t bother to answer the questions is telling any organisation something about their engagement levels!

  2. I recently came across a company where the M.D. had made a DVD, costing thousands of pounds, which was to be shown to 2000 employees, begging them to complete the annual employee survey. The previous year they ony had a 60% completion rate, and their parent company had told them they had to increase that to 70% this year. 😦

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