19.06.2013

How to Create an Employee Engagement Survey: Part 2

This is the second in a series of six posts - click here for the others (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

The first post of this series I focused on how to create a short engagement index or factor, which make up your first three questions. The reason for this was again, that it's helpful to have a clear outcome measure when we are collecting employee research, it's the main thing we are trying to track, improve or impact.

In the case of an employee engagement index we want it to be a reliable indicator of how motivated, committed and happy our employees are, working in our organization. Sure, there are other things that are important but generally these things are all related so we don't need to have everything we think encompasses engagement in the index.

Also, it's always possible to use slightly different questions or phrases, but it's important not to get too hung up on this because our ultimate aim is to understand what drives engagement–not understand absolutely everything that could constitute engagement. Think of it like the economy where we use measures such as GDP or GDP per capita or a range of other measures. We could argue about which measure is the best but in the end, what's important is to work on the things that make a difference.

So what are the things that might make your engagement index great for your organization?

I am going to use our own LEAD (Lead, Enable, Align, Develop) model for the drivers of engagement. Three items for each area will give us 12 questions and together with the engagement index (from the previous post) we'll have a nice 15 question survey, not bad. For today's post, we will just focus on "L"questions:

Leadership (L) is probably the most talked about issue in the context of organizational culture and performance. Not surprisingly, leadership questions are often linked to the top drivers of engagement for organizations large and small. There are many theories of leadership, but we will need to distill them down to three items, remember we are not trying to capture everything about leadership we just need to have some indicators of good and bad leadership so we can see how we're tracking and whether it's influencing overall engagement positively or negatively, throughout the organization or just within certain teams.

I've outlined three example questions, but since every company is different, we always recommend customizing them to suit your culture.

First,

"The leaders at this company have communicated a vision that motivates me"

What we are trying to determine with this questions is if your company's vision is clear, if leaders are effectively communicating the company vision, and if it's a vision that motivates your employees in their day to day. We've found, people will only truly find the vision motivating if they believe in it and believe it's achievable. The next question is a follow up to that, once employees are connected with this vision we need to know how we're going with it.

Second,

"The leaders at this company keep people informed about what is happening"

So far we've focused on the 'leaders' which typically refers to senior leadership, but what about the day-to-day leadership of managers? We will dig into this more later but immediate managers also have an important role to play in connecting people with what's going on in the company, so the next question might just be:

"My manager is a great role model for employees"

Now some people may argue that this is too broad, but remember we are just trying to put together a brief survey to give us some insights into if we are succeeding at engaging employees. You might discover you need to better understand why a manager is or is not a good role model, but we would need a survey dedicated to manager effectiveness in order to answer that question. This question, however, will tell us a great deal and certainly let us know if a manager is not leading well–whatever that means to your employees.

So here we go, here is our brief Leadership index or factor:

  1. The leaders at this company have communicated a vision that motivates me
  2. The leaders at this company keep people informed about what is happening
  3. My manager is a great role model for employees

In next week's post we'll tackle the E in LEAD: Enablement

References

House & Aditya (1997). The Social Scientific Study of Leadership: Quo Vadis? Journal of Management, 33 (3), pp. 409-473.

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