At a bus stop somewhere in Sweden, I observe in passing two acquaintances meet. The atmosphere seems to be slightly stiff, the conversation a bit rushed and the perceived distance between them huge. Similar exchanges are happening every day. At the checkout in the supermarket, at social events, in the gym, everywhere. And the workplace is not an exception. For how do you build a relationship without an ongoing communication?
A: Hi! How are you?
B: Hey. It’s great. You?
A: Oh it’s great. How’s the family?
B: Yeah, ehm, they’re good. So…
A: Ok good. Have a good one!
B: You too! All the best.
How will you find out how it really is if you do not have a good relationship with the one you ask? If we do a quick analysis of the meeting between A and B, the lack of substance in the conversation are due to three factors.
- Trust. Is there trust in the person asking the questions?
- Commitment. Is there a common goal or long-term relationship to build on? What is the purpose of the conversation?
- Motivation. Is this conversation more valuable to pursue right now than any other task?
These factors create value in a meeting and it is the value which guides us in the decision on what we want to spend our time on.
The employee survey is not an exception. How will you find out how the employees feel or think if you run into each other once a year and then and ask "how are you" on a scale from 1-10, without trust, commitment or motivation that adds a value to the communication?
Succeeding in taking the pulse of the business requires an active dialogue and here is where pulsed employee surveys is different from the traditional surveys. The issues raised and questions asked are more relevant because they can be customized, thus creating valuable personal meetings and conversations that justify the continuation of dialogue.
In the end, we all still want to tell someone that we have a good relationship to, that we trust, which we know is listening and care and tell them how we really feel and then find a solution.
It is just acquaintances who get a “great” response.