Some work places from time to time have an iniative to get feedback on job satisfaction and organisational issues.
So they roll out a survey for your constructive feedback, in order for you to work in a place that achieves your goals and is pleasant to work in.
It is usually voluntary, anonymous, and you are told to be honest without re-percussions.
There are a few things wrong or old with this approach:
- It seems an uninteresting thing to take part in, so this will effect take-up
- If I do take part, how do I know they care, what’s the follow-up process
- It is structured (not free form), I’m responding to an agenda
- The responses are not shared with others (assumed management is the oracle that can answer your questions)
Now imagine you had an enterprise social network like Facebook:
- Firstly there would be no need for this whole program, all management would have to do is follow the internal blogosphere on a regular basis, and pick up on the conversations around these issues…the patterns that emerge.
Management could post a meme on this topic (kind of in disguise), that would work its way around the internal blogosphere.
What I mean is they could post a feeling or question without being direct, in a way that will generate the responses they are after.
- personal job satisfaction may be more of a private issue, in contrast organisational issues could be more openly discussed…I guess it depends on how trusting you are in being honest with your organisation.
Don’t say anything too harsh as you may get into trouble and it could start a revolt…the art of language is in need here.
- blogs are free form, people can post what they like, they can leave whatever comment they like, everything is shared in the open, it’s a conversation.
The conversation is not just between you and management, but between everyone, and as long as people can keep posting and commenting, the issues will be closely followed till a result is seen.
Anyway this was probably not a good example of a topic, as it’s more personal and treading on water with management. Either way the blogosphere works itself out…there are initial posts, then conversation, till a consensus or decision of the majority emerges.
Sometimes there’s no need for these programs as the social network is perpetually chatting on anything and everything, all management need to do is listen and contribute to the conversation.
Give people talking tools like blogs, and they will speak their mind, especially if everyone is doing it, then they feel more compfortable to be honest and open.
Management basically has free market research, and free focus groups at the drop of a hat whenever they want to ask a question in order to make the workers life better (customer satisfaction).
And the staff have a conversation market to discuss their opinions and be heard.
What do you think?
Perhaps this web 2.0 approach is not appropriate for this specific example, but I think the old approach of polling the audience on organisational issues in a one-on-one may approach may go nowhere for the staff.
If the staff feel excited enough and comfortable to contribute management will get a lot out of this for themselves, they will, to a degree, know what people want and expect, and what they are unhappy with…but what’s the promise on anything getting done.
Instead a more open and many-to-many conversation forum (process rather than a program), is going to get quality discussion going…and since it is more open and a buzz, there is more onus to deliver on the results.
People feel empowered, and more engaged in the whole process of contributing in a conversation…they feel part of the fabric. An open relationship allows you to feel comfortable to share your feelings, and if you are heard, you feel part of the family.
What I like about the open conversation is that an issue that one person has can be countered or solved by another person…management can just sit and watch as the social capital works itself out. Well not really, moreso the social capital can be leveraged to gain more perspective and insights on an issue…more than management could do own its own.
This also comes back to another question about the structured approach, when asked questions in a survey, people find it hard to think or recall things, they know there is something to say, but can’t remember.
Now compare this with narrative techniques championed by the Anecdote guys…instead of asking straight to the point questions (based on an agenda), a story circle gets more in touch with how you feel, and stories come out that identify with these feelings. These stories trigger new things in others, and a deep discussion may result…this approach is a discussion with people which is more humanistic and motivated over answering a survey.
You say things that you could not articulate if asked a direct question, instead if you are asked to share in a circle, in a more gentle and teased out approach you will answer that same question…plus you may be sharing issues and solutions for questions that were not even asked.