A constant need of most leaders is to find out precisely what the workforce is thinking and how engaged they are. The usual practice is to use an employee satisfaction survey, which generally doesn’t always ask the right questions.
We are not really concerned as to whether the employees are merely satisfied with their lot but rather what is it that is really important to them as an individual and part of a team.
It has to be said that results of some employee satisfaction surveys are very dubious mainly because even if the process is claimed to be anonymous, this can be disbelieved. Additionally and even though it might not be thought to be totally anonymous, the temptation is to sound off and use it as a complaint survey.
An excellent book Follow This Path by Coffman and Gonzalez-Molina explains how the international survey company Gallup realised these shortcomings and developed a simple survey based on literally millions of responses they had over many years. They realised that there are only twelve basic questions that cover the needs of employees.
In other words rather than trying to discover employee satisfaction the survey uncovers employee attitudes and that is far more relevant.
The people were give a range of five options to enable them to rate the importance of each to them from Strongly Disagree through Neutral to Strongly Agree. Because there can be a tendency for disinterested people to choose the Neutral option as a get out, there is a case for dropping it and offer only four alternatives.
The questionnaire was as follows:
1. I know what is expected of me at work.
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
5. My supervisor, or someone at work seems to care about me as person.
6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
10. I have a trusted colleague at work. (The Gallup system uses special friend or best friend but I prefer this alternative)
11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
12. In this last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow at work.
These are the twelve magic questions on which Gallup has spent millions of dollars and some 30 years in developing to assess the level of engagement of employees.
They have discovered that engaged employees create engaged customers and engaged customers are very loyal customers and therefore are more likely to be repeat buyers. The very satisfactory result is that they are usually very profitable customers.
Look at the reverse situation. If you have employees who are not engaged, are bored, just come in to work to earn their pay, exhibit poor behaviour and have generally a bad attitude, do you really think that they will create engaged customers?
There is no question that engaged employees create engaged customers so the whole concept of improving attitudes and hence behaviour becomes manifestly important.
The primary function of the leader is to ensure that the desired culture is defined, explained and transmitted to the team at all times and the Gallup questionnaire does just that.
Learn from the Gallup questions and develop a culture that will produce the employees and the customers that benefit the business.
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