Being Survey Savvy


Unless someone within your company has a background in surveying , it's important to get outside help in building a survey that asks the right questions in the right way. An objective consulting firm will also help eliminate the fear that employees typically have when being brutally honest about their employer's shortcomings. No matter how "anonymous" you allow internal surveys to be, employees will hesitate to hand you ratings that they think could affect their job security. A consulting group experienced in survey design and administration will get a much better and more honest response rate.

If you insist on conducting your survey in house, ask every question twice: once to rate performance and once to judge importance. For example, in asking about communication styles between employees and managers, one question might ask employees to rate the following comment: "My manager gives me frequent and useful feedback." The second asks them to rate the comment "Frequent and useful feedback is important to me."

When you craft a survey in this style, data quickly falls into one of four categories: skills or issues that relate to high performance and are of high importance, which means they are critical to the success of the organization and are performed well; those that relate to high performance and are of low importance, which means they are done well but don't affect organizational objectives; those that relate to low performance and are of high importance, which means they are done poorly and are of great importance to the success of the company; and those that relate to low performance and are of low importance, which means they are done poorly but have no value to the organization.

Based on those categories, you will quickly see where you need to focus your efforts and dollars ”on the low-performance/high-importance issues. You'll also see where that money can come from ”the budgets for low-performance/low-importance areas (because they are not tied to the goals of the organization), and the high-performance/high-importance areas (because the company is already succeeding in this area). See Figure 2-2.

start figure

City of Utopia

Organizational Diagnosis Questionnaire

Survey Instructions

The City of Utopia is committed to continual improvement. To further that commitment, we are conducting an employee survey to find out where we need to improve our efforts and where we need to continue successful efforts. We would appreciate your taking the time during work (today if possible) to complete and mail this survey in the provided postage -paid envelope. The surveys will be processed by an outside firm to provide complete anonymity to all employees. Neither employees of the City of Utopia nor the Continuous Improvement Process consultant will see the survey responses of any individual. If everyone gives open and honest responses, we will have the information we need to truly make this the best organization it can be.

The survey has two sections. The first section asks for demographic information such as work unit, years with the city, and so on. This data will not be used to single out the responses of any one individual. Please check the appropriate response.

The second section, which is the main body of the survey, contains a list of statements. You are asked to make two judgments about each statement. First, you are asked how much you agree that the statement describes our organization. For instance, the tenth statement is "My relations with my work unit are friendly." Do you Strongly Agree that the statement describes your experience here, or Agree, Disagree , or Strongly Disagree ? The second judgment you are asked to make concerns the importance of the statement. Importance should be judged against the Vision Statement, which is listed at the top of each page. For instance, how important is it that your relationships with your work unit be friendly, if we are to achieve our vision? Is it Very Important, Important, Unimportant , or Very Unimportant ? Please circle your responses.

Please complete the entire survey. We estimate it will take about thirty minutes to complete. You may use up to one hour of your work day . When you have completed your survey, please mail it in the postage-paid envelope no later than Friday, March 1.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. Your involvement is an important part of the Continuous Improvement Process.

City of Utopia: Organizational Diagnosis

Questionnaire

  1. I have worked for the City of Utopia for (check one):

    __ Less than 2 years

    __ 2 years to 5 years

    __ 6 years to 10 years

    __ 11 years to 15 years

    __ 16 years to 20 years

    __ 21 or more years

  2. My position in the organization is classified as (check one):

    __ Manager

    __ Supervisor

    __ Nonsupervisory

  3. I work in the following (check one):

    __ City Manager's Office

    __ City Attorney's Office

    __ Personnel

Police Department

__ Administration

__ Support Services

__ Patrol

__ Investigation

   

Fire Department

__ Administration

__ Support Services

__ Operations

Electric Department

__ Administration

__ Engineering

__ Operations

Community Development

__ Building Inspection

__ Facilities Maintenance

__ Golf

__ Parks and Forestry

__ Recreation

__ Planning-

__ Public Works/Eng.

__ Sanitation

  • __ Transportation

__ Streets & Storm Drainage Maint.

  • __ Other

Finance-Fleet

__ Accounting

__ Operations-Purchasing

__ MIS-Utility

__ Risk Management

__ Warehouse

__ Billing

Human and Cultural Services

__ Library

__ Youth Services

__ Museum

__ Muni. Court/Probation

__ Senior Services

 

Water/Wastewater Utilities

__ Administration

__ Engineering

__ Water Resources

__ Operations/Maint.

__ Treatment Plants

 

Questions 4 and 5 are optional

  1. I am (check one):

__ Female

__ Male

  1. I am (check one):

__ Caucasian

__ Non-Caucasian

 

Indicate to what extent you agree or disagree that each statement is true of this organization.

1. Strongly Disagree

2. Disagree

3. Agree

4. Strongly Agree

How important is this issue to achieving our vision?

1. Very Unimportant

2. Unimportant

3. Important

4. Very Important

  1. My immediate supervisor gives me frequent feedback.

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  1. I have the information I need to do a good job.

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  1. Rewards are clearly tied to performance.

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  1. I can always talk with someone at work who can help me solve work- related problems.

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  1. City employees resolve conflicts appropriately.

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  1. My immediate supervisor gives me useful feedback.

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  1. I understand how my job performance helps this organization provide services.

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  1. City employees spend this organization's money wisely.

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  1. The goals of this organization are clearly stated.

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  1. My relations with my work unit are friendly.

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  1. I know what new projects this organization has planned.

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  1. This organization favors change.

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  1. Existing systems and structures help me attain my goals and complete my tasks .

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  1. Employees' attitudes toward this organization are positive.

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  1. This organization is not resistant to change.

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  1. The feedback I receive from my immediate supervisor helps me improve my work performance.

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  1. In my work unit, employee input is used to help determine goals.

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  1. The structure of work in my unit is well organized.

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  1. Work tasks in my unit are assigned logically.

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  1. My immediate supervisor supports my efforts.

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  1. The goals of my work unit are clearly stated.

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  1. I know what my opportunities are for promotion.

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  1. Managers and supervisors act on my input.

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  1. I know where this organization stands on important public issues.

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  1. This organization has the ability to change.

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  1. This organization's work plans help its performance.

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  1. My supervisor's manager helps my work unit achieve its goals.

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  1. My supervisor is supported by his or her manager.

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  1. Other work units are helpful when I need assistance.

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  1. Leadership efforts in this organization result in success.

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  1. My job offers me the opportunity to grow as a person.

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  1. Internal operations run smoothly.

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  1. I understand the priorities of this organization very well.

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  1. Most employees don't try to protect their turf at the expense of achieving this organization's goals.

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  1. The policies and procedures of this organization help me get my work done well.

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  1. I understand the priorities of my work unit well.

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  1. Managers and supervisors are sufficiently trained in using procedures (for example, conducting performance evaluations, job interviews, etc.).

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  1. I know what my opportunities are for growth.

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  1. Employees initiate conflicts appropriately.

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  1. Employees adapt well to change.

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  1. This organization offers me the opportunity for promotions.

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  1. City Council actions have a positive impact on the day-to-day running of my department.

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  1. I have established the relationships I need to do my job properly.

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  1. Work units are organized in a way that helps this organization achieve its vision.

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  1. The division of labor in my work unit is flexible.

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  1. Our leaders focus on this organization's goals.

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  1. People get promoted because of their achievements, not because of who they know.

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  1. My immediate supervisor provides clear direction.

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  1. My immediate supervisor has ideas that are helpful to me and my work unit.

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  1. I agree with the goals of my work unit.

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  1. This organization's control processes (for example, rules and regulations, policies and procedures) help its performance.

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  1. This organization's systems and structures encourage cooperation and collaboration.

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  1. There is little unresolved conflict in this organization.

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  1. My immediate supervisor gives feedback without hurting others' feelings.

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  1. Leadership practices support this organization's stated values.

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  1. Employees cope with change well.

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  1. The pay and benefit policies of this organization are fair to all employees.

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  1. This organization's systems and structures serve as an incentive for employees to participate fully.

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  1. Tasks are divided in a logical manner within this organization.

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  1. I get along well with my immediate supervisor.

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  1. I get along well with my supervisor's manager.

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  1. Politics plays a minor role in employees' achieving their work goals.

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  1. Managers and supervisors ask for input.

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  1. Occasionally I like to change things about my job.

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  1. I personally agree with the vision statement of this organization.

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  1. If I have a problem with my immediate supervisor, I have someplace to go to get it resolved.

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  1. The division of labor in my work unit helps this organization reach its goals.

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  1. I feel free to give feedback to anyone in this organization regardless of position or title.

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  1. My work unit's actions and outputs are consistent with this organization's goals and objectives.

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  1. My relations with my work unit are professional.

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  1. My supervisor's manager treats us fairly .

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  1. The salary I receive is appropriate for the job I do.

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  1. The leadership practices of this organization help its progress.

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  1. In your opinion, what are the most important things this organization can do to help achieve the vision statement?

Again, thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.

An effectively designed organizational survey will provide keen insight into the cultural attitude of the company.

end figure

Figure 2-2: Survey Sample.

A third party can analyze the results and break them down into target areas using statistical-survey software, or you can purchase the software if someone has the skills to manage the analysis in house. The software can quickly organize survey data and return the results in a format that pulls key issues into the spotlight ”if you have the expertise to gather the correct information in the appropriate format.

At Rockwell Collins, we sent out hundreds of paper-based surveys to employees in all departments across the organization. We opted not to use Rockwell Collins's intranet to deliver the survey because some of the issues we were trying to get at had to do with computer access at work, e-mail at work and home, and so on. We weren't sure who had what because data on employee access to technology didn't exist at that time. If we had known in advance that most employees had access to the company's intranet, we would have conducted our surveys online.

The survey touched on three key areas of the company and dealt largely with employees' ability and willingness to embrace alternative forms of learning. One-fourth of the questions focused on existing technology: "Do you have sound cards?" "Do you have Internet access at your desk and at home?" The answers to these questions gave us a picture of what hardware our team would ultimately have to work with and how ready employees were to receive technology-based learning.

Half of the questions focused on employees' attitude toward alternative learning. We refrained from asking specifically about Internet-based learning and focused instead on what employees wanted from their learning experience. For example: Would they like to be able to start and stop training at their convenience? Would they like training at their desks? The data would establish the mindset about, and understanding of, alternatives to classroom-based learning.

Finally, we asked questions about how cultural issues affect employees' ability to learn. It is very important at this point in the formulation of the survey to understand some of the overarching cultural elements of your company. Because of our organizational-development backgrounds, we knew that there were going to be some significant cultural issues at Rockwell Collins. For example, we knew that a major cultural value at Rockwell Collins was that if you were at your desk or in your office you should be working on work . This philosophy was driven by Rockwell Collins's many years as a provider of military gear to the federal government, whose contracts require that all employees account for their time. Because of this belief that if employees are at their desks they should be working, we knew that people would have a difficult time taking e-learning courses at their workstations.

We also knew that the old training model required employees to sign up for a course months before the actual class date. As a consequence of a very dynamic work environment where the workload can change daily, many people had to cancel their attendance at courses they'd signed up for. Therefore, we designed questions to open up discussions about employees' frustrations with the enrollment process.

It is important to note that direct questions about an organization's culture generally are not answered in any meaningful way. "Does Rockwell Collins's culture interfere with your attendance at training classes?" is an example of a question that wouldn't elicit useful data because it is too vague and general. However, there are ways of phrasing questions that allow you to get the equivalent data. For example, we asked questions such as "Have you ever canceled a course that you registered for?" and "Have you ever left a class early?" The responses to these questions showed us how work interfered with the learning process and, just as important, gave us data to support the need for learning kiosks or dedicated computer stations away from the workplace.

We received a response rate of approximately 50 percent over two weeks, which is better than average for this type of survey. We obtained valuable hard data that we would later highlight in our business case, including the fact that 62 percent of employees wanted to receive training outside of the traditional classroom setting; 72 percent wanted to be able to start and stop learning when they wanted to; and 75 percent of Rockwell Collins's employees wanted to learn at their own pace. This survey data added further detail to the picture that was developing of Rockwell Collins's need for and attitude toward training.






Built to Learn. The Inside Story of How Rockwell Collins Became a True Learning Organization
Built to Learn: The Inside Story of How Rockwell Collins Became a True Learning Organization
ISBN: 0814407722
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 124
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