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Beyond surveys — moving beyond the what, to the why, to support organizational change

Surveys can be a crutch for organizations. The advantages to using surveys are that the survey instruments are easily developed and distributed, and provide the opportunity to track specific responses over time. However, there are significant drawbacks to using surveys as the only method of collecting information from stakeholders and customers. Survey information gathered is only as good as the questions developed and the time respondents are willing to spend answering the survey in an environment where many feel over-surveyed. Potential respondents receive their surveys through email in many cases, and these emails tend to be the last item addressed in the inbox, if addressed at all. Think about your email box, how many of us start hitting the delete key when faced with a screen full of requests for our attention?

To frame the discussion, let’s start with basic definitions. The definitions for survey and for assessment provide a picture of the differences between the two.

Survey: To ask (many people) a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something. (Dictionary.com)

Assessment: The act of judging or deciding the value, quality, or importance of something, or the judgement or decision that is made. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/assessment)

The definition of each term paints a picture of the differences between the two data collection methods. While asking people a series of questions to gather information is an important approach, the evolution of data collection to best practice approaches is to allow those responding to provide information about the value, quality, or importance of the information being gathered. Big difference, right?

Consider a different approach which provides the opportunity to partner with those who have valuable information critical to your organization’s success. Assessments are a tool used to collect information regarding organizational performance and stakeholder, customer and employee satisfaction, needs, and requirements. The information collected is critical as inputs into the development of new strategic plans or to check the progress of plans under way. Assessments ensure the organization is developing and deploying sound, balanced and systematic approaches, meeting specific goals and objectives. Assessments feature the collection of qualitative and quantitative information that answers the what of the feedback, the why, and identifies potential solutions. Assessments combine the convenience and ease of surveys while facilitating the opportunity to partner more closely with those providing information.

Technology based tools can be used to facilitate the effective collection of the information, but the engagement approach prior to the data collection provides the opportunity for a value based partnership between the organization and the respondents. The process features two-way partnerships between the organization and the respondents.

Benefits of Assessment

  • – Identify successes and opportunities for improvement
  • – Jump-start a change initiative
  • – Energize improvement initiatives
  • – Energize the workforce
  • – Focus your organization on common goals
  • – Assess performance against the competition
  • – Align resources with strategic objectives

It’s a new year and for many organizations, a time to evaluate the effectiveness of work completed in the previous year while planning for the future. It’s a natural time for evaluation of successes and the identification of opportunities for improvement. Organizational initiatives must be prioritized to ensure the most effective focuses for the organization. Establish or reset your priorities based on meaningful information provided by those most important to your organizational success. Assessments provide the opportunity to engage with your stakeholders through collaboration while planning for the future. There’s not a better time for improving your organization’s approach to meeting the needs of your customers, stakeholders, and implements. Start today!

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