George_Bernard_Shaw_1925 “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

So said George Bernard Shaw, and they are profound and well-observed words. If you follow our weekly news updates every Thursday you’ll know of our desire to make communication anything but an illusion – theoretically simple, but in practice often more tricky to achieve.

You will also know that emenex has formed a strategic partnership with IBM Kenexa, bringing together IBM’s deep expertise in employee survey design and analytics with our experience and capability in helping clients ‘read’ survey data and take appropriate strategic action as a result.

IBM Kenexa’s latest and most powerful survey platform yet, Employee Voice, hones in on three key activities which, when implemented effectively, enable businesses to bring about real transformation: Listen. Analyse. Act.

So what makes the combination of these three small words so powerful?

In effect, it enables leaders in organisations to do everything humanly possible to remove the illusion that communication has happened, and make it a reality. Employee Voice – giving employees the opportunity to say what they think in an environment where they are sure senior leaders will listen – is one of the key enablers of employee engagement identified by Engage for Success. Deep down, we know it’s true: if you really want to know what’s happening, you just need to ask the people who really know – i.e. those on the ‘front line’ – and listen to what they tell you. When numbers are small, it’s very straightforward (or at least, it should be!) – you just speak to people and listen to what they tell you; this is one of the key responsibilities of every line manager – to be talking with their team and listening constantly. But when the conversation needs to happen at organisational level, then a properly designed survey provides a powerful tool to scale up the conversation.

In our experience, many organisations are now very familiar with surveys; the challenge comes with how to analyse the data effectively, getting beyond the verbatim comments (although these provide very valuable data) to see important trends that aren’t always obvious at first glance. This deep analysis creates the foundations on which focused, specific and powerful action can be taken that enables an organisation to do even better than it already is.

It is self evident that promising action and/or change but doing nothing is guaranteed to demotivate and disengage even the most loyal employee. That’s why running an annual survey is a useless and expensive waste of everybody’s time, energy and money, unless it leads to definite action as a direct result. But when Listen – Analyse – Act work inextricably together, the research proves it will make a measurable impact on key metrics such as engagement, productivity and bottom line results; you can read more about this research evidence here.

Surveys are powerful, effective and vital tools for any organisation wanting to transform its performance; but ultimately, there is no substitute for effective, regular communication between line managers and their direct reports. Use both to turn the illusion of communication into reality.

You can find a short video and more information about IBM Kenexa’s surveys here.

 

Photo: By Nobel Foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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