You know those staff surveys that corporations send out once a year to gauge employee satisfaction? The ones that top executives often think are great ways to engage staff and gather employee and cultural intelligence? They're not. At all.
This is the only result you can expect with said approach. (Man, Gord loved that movie.)
Let's put this into perspective:
- Would you expect your waitor to ask you how the food was only every 52 times you went into your favorite restaurant?
- Would you ask your business partner how the financials looked just once per year?
- Would you ask your teenage offspring how they were coping just once per year?
- Would you ask your spouse how she felt only once per year? (This one may result in death as opposed to a blip in domestic morale.)
No, you wouldn't and you shouldn't. Instead gather feedback at all key stages where employees interact, or customers do business, with you. Continuous feedback and monitoring is the foundation for continuous improvement.
Your first foray into continuous feedback doesn't have to be a time and resource consuming nightmare. While it's true the continuous collection of information makes it necessary to acknowledge and/or respond and/or act on feedback in a timely, relevant way, consider the Google Help Centers model. When you search a given topic and receive an answer, you also receive a simple question: "was this article the information you were looking for? Y/N?" One could assume with fair confidence that when the "no" column gets more hits than the "yes", someone over at Googleplex is revising that answer.
Either way, any system that solicits continuous feedback is not more taxing than being put out of business by your own lack of human bandwidth...or your competitor's new transparent communication-focused culture.
Was this the information you were looking for? We'll check back next year tomorrow to find out.