Savvy managers will often assert that employees are their most valuable asset. However, translating that maxim into practice gets forgotten almost as often as it is said.
So what do managers do in order to bring fruition to this idea? They must build employee engagement. An organization cannot succeed without employees who are committed to the success of their organization. Employees must understand where the organization is going and how they fit into the big picture. Managers must link their day-to-day activities to the mission and vision of the organization.
For first-line supervisor with only a few direct reports this can be very easy. Meet with the team, listen to their personal and job-related needs, and involve them in improvement efforts. Being an active part of a winning team will engage employees.
But for higher level managers with hundreds or even thousands of direct and indirect reports it gets a little tougher. It is not physically possible to meet with everyone and certainly not on a regular basis. However, the secret is to use that same first-line supervisor group approach but on a grander scale.
How do you link these local team meetings together into a coordinated effort? Using an employee survey is one way to tackle this problem. This process, first designed in the early 1970s, is called Survey-Guided Development. Simply put, SGD is a systematic process to use the survey throughout the organization to effect improvements, build teamwork, and engage employees.
For SGD to be effective it must also have the complete support and participation of top management as well as all supervisors. Supervisors are the key since they are members of two groups – the one they supervise and the one in which they are a subordinate. They are the link pins of the overlapping work group structure of organizations. Using this overlapping structure is the key to upward, downward, and lateral coordination of efforts throughout the organization.
But what to measure? SGD is only as good as the survey information it is based on. To be effective the survey must be based on a model of organizational effectiveness that gives actionable information for both organizational level issues as well as local issues. An effective survey should measure these key areas:
- Strategic Direction – The mission and vision of the organization. The direction the organization is heading.
- Organizational Culture – The values and beliefs that determine how the organization operates.
- Managerial Leadership – The day-to-day behaviors manifested by management
- Organizational Climate – The policies, practices, procedures that define everyday activities.
- Supervisory Leadership – The day-to-day behaviors manifested by the immediate supervisor.
- Employee Engagement – The behaviors and motivations that bind an employee to the organization
- Productivity – The amount, quality, and efficiency with which work is produced.
- Customer Loyalty – Behaviors that go beyond satisfaction – repeat business, expanded business, recommending products/services to others.
By using a statistical technique called Driver Analysis, it is also possible to determine which Values and Behaviors are driving the employee and customer outcomes. This gives an organization incredible leverage in knowing what areas to attack.
Survey-Guided Development is a proven tool for increasing employee engagement and building more productive organizations.