30.11.2011

'My manager keeps me informed about what is happening'

Yes, that's a statement, and in an employee survey it is also a question - as in 'do you agree or disagree with this statement?'. It's also one of 50 questions in our standard Murmur employee survey.
In this type of question we provide a statement to represent the ideal situation (or "goal state") and we simply ask employees whether this state exists. In this case we are asking whether an individual's immediate manager keeps them informed about what is happening. Now, this may sound a little vague but what we're after is a feeling, and feelings can be vague AND important - whether the employee has that 'feeling' of being kept in the loop (you know the loop?) is important.

This is one of the important but 'hard to get right' management skills - knowing how to keep employees in the loop without over burdening them with useless information. Being in the loop makes people feel like they know the important or relevant things to their role AND the organisation. However, although this question can provide very useful feedback for a manager it also provides a clear example of where annual surveys can make things unnecessarily difficult for managers.

A manager who receives a poor rating on this question may attempt to improve things by telling employees more about what is happening over the next few months. But at the end of three months they may still not be sure if they are keeping people informed enough. In a small team he or she can simply go around and ask, but in a larger team this may be harder. Sometimes managers will then escalate the informing to the point of driving employees crazy - knowing your manager's flight route is NOT important; knowing they are flying and wont be back for a week IS.

This is where the continuous surveying provided by Murmur adds an extra key dimension. By using a rolling survey throughout the year, a manager can have new feedback on this question every 3-4 months. If results are greatly improved he or she can relax a little and maintain their communication levels at a nice equilibrium. If results are still lagging they can seek more guidance on what they need to communicate and evaluate their results in another 3-4 months. That's why we're building Murmur - it's management GPS - and a GPS unit that gave you a read once a year just isn't enough.

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