At our most recent Annual Conference in San Diego, California, organizational development expert and keynote speaker, Alan Weiss, sat on a team development panel fielding questions from a room full of accountants from around the world. He was asked the question: “How do I deal with team members who are constantly moaning about what’s wrong in my firm?” It is a common question. Alan, true to form, dealt with it in a spectacular manner. “Next time you hear that,” he said, “ask them this question: if you had $100,000 to spend on just one thing to improve things around here, where you would spend that money?”
The reason this is such a great response is it throws the issue back to the team member AND gets them thinking about specifics, rather than offering generic feedback. So how do you systematize that approach?
In days gone by, employee surveys were all the rage. Long, detailed questionnaires soliciting responses from team members about a whole range of different issues. Times have changed, and no-one has the time or the desire to wade through hundreds of questions. Research confirms that the best approach for the modern world is to engineer a series of online ‘conversations’ with team members – every six to eight weeks on a specific topic, asking a handful of well-crafted questions so that team members can respond in two or three minutes and give on-point feedback on issues that are important to them.
The question then becomes, which topics should you choose? Consider this:
What is the experience of people who went through your recruitment process?
This could give you some very interesting pointers in what you could improve to create a more compelling experience before someone joins your team. What if you asked team members for their views on:
- The recruitment process
- Their onboarding experience
- The training program you outlined for them
- The way in which their roles and responsibilities were defined
- The way in which the proposed compensation package was presented
- The way in which the entire recruitment process was handled from an administrative perspective.
But don’t stop there. Once someone has joined your team, how do they rate:
- Your company’s vision – do they understand what you do?
- The market you are addressing – do they understand the clients you are targeting, what those clients need, how you address those needs and how you are different from the competition?
You can ask well-crafted questions in a formal way (don’t leave this to chance – the way in which the questions are asked will determine the quantity and quality of response) and/or you might consider asking using questions that ‘check in’ with team members on issues such as energy, culture or morale in a light-hearted manner. Or a combination of the two.
The key is to view this as a process rather than a one-off event, and then to take action on what you learn. That’s where Panalitix’s TeamBuilder solution can help. Using carefully crafted questions covering all of the above subjects and more (and customizable so that you can add in questions that are important to you), the application will analyze the responses and present a prioritized action plan back to you. Importantly, the plan is supported by content so that you know what to do to address the issues raised. The owners of the firm receive very focused input on what should be improved, and team members feel appreciated because you are regularly seeking their feedback.