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A New World Order for Employee Engagement Surveys
Traditional Methods of Organizational Assessments Fail to Address Today’s Needs. The essential building blocks of an organization’s culture can either support its growth or derail its plans. In today’s corporate landscape in which hard, accurate data is essential in decision-making, leaders across all functions are constantly seeking new methods of putting a measurable value on even the “softest” of factors – including organizational culture.
For years Employee Engagement Surveys have sought to provide basic insights into the culture of a corporation’s organizational dynamics. However, new and more comprehensive tools and techniques now exist to better serve the decision-making needs of senior leaders in a quantifiable manner. These tools and techniques must be considered before the next round of Engagement Surveys are undertaken.
Since the early 1930’s when they were first developed, Employee Satisfaction Surveys have been administered to register a benchmark of a company’s employee satisfaction. The theory back then was that a “happy worker was a productive worker.” By the early 1950’s, most had changed their names to Engagement Surveys to keep up with emerging new "HR-speak" and to reflect the realization that there was little correlation between employee happiness and productivity and/or business success. In spite of the name-change, though, the focus of the surveys changed very little.
Over the ensuing decades, many of the established Employee Engagement Surveys sought to broaden their scope in an attempt to create greater relevancy by measuring such things as morale, motivation, pride, and empowerment. Regardless of their intended purposes, in many places they were misused or not used at all. In some companies the surveys became the proverbial “bludgeon” by senior executives who were eager to impose changes on the organizations they oversaw. Lower level executives were charged to make radical cultural changes in impossible timeframes. Today, many companies give the annual Employee Engagement Survey a cursory review after which, given its lack of relevancy to the entire spectrum of business realities, it is shelved for another year.
In many instances, the sole justification for the continuation of Employee Engagement Surveys hedges on “but we’ve got all this historical data – if we don’t do it again this year we’ll lose the continuity and connection with the past!” This thinking falls short in recognizing that past data is rarely relevant to tomorrow’s world and has rarely, if ever, been used in making business decision of serious consequence.
The entire notion on which Employee Engagement Surveys are built is flawed. They are a protected species that have outlived their business purpose and have failed to adapt to a changing global, electronic, holistic workplace. The surveys examine only one dimension of an organization’s culture and most continue to do so in a static, non-dynamic nature. Understanding and effectively leading an organization’s culture for improved business results requires a much broader and more dynamic view than what is measured by any Engagement Survey. It is the overall culture of an organization in which the historically created guidelines for employee behaviors are found; not in just the extent to which those employees are engaged.
With recent advancements in testing, technology, and organizational theory, today senior executives and HR leaders can examine the various cultures of their organizations in a comprehensive, quantifiable manner. They now have the tools and capabilities to drive culture-change initiatives for increased business success.
In our next blog, we will discuss what to look for in Culture Measurement Tools to properly keep pace with the new world order relating to the annual Employee Engagement Survey.[i]
[i] Crenshaw Associates is the developer and owner of the state-of-the-art intellectual property used for cultural assessments known as Team CultureMapping®, Organizational CultureMapping® and M&A Compatibility Mapping® that were originally documented in the ground-breaking book written by Crenshaw’s Chairman, Nat Stoddard, entitled: THE RIGHT LEADER: Selecting Executives Who Fit (Wiley, 2009). For more information about culture assessments and how the right tool can help you diagnose measure and transform your organization, contact Barbara Bridendolph at (917) 408-6584.