This morning I realized that the final installment of this series (what I’ve learned in 30 years) has to be about assessment and measurement. Today more than ever, if you’re not routinely measuring your employee communication program, you’re missing an important opportunity to move from order taker to trusted advisor.
So I’ve collected observations from previous blogs to bring you 10 thoughts about measurement:
- Measurement helps position you as an expert. You move from “the person who helps us get communication done” to “the professional who knows what employees need."
- Employees have great ideas on how to improve communication. So if you’re stuck, simply ask the question, “What is one thing we can do to improve . . .?” and you’ll get lots of suggestions.
- Measurement helps you speak the language of senior leaders. Leaders are comfortable with data, so every time you bring metrics to the conversation helps you gain a seat at the table.
- You never have to say, “I feel . . .” when making your case. Instead, you can say, “The data indicate . . .” or “Employees prefer . . .”
- One persuasive form of data that doesn’t require conducting research: demographics. It’s relatively easy to gather demographic data (age, job levels, locations, ethnicity, etc.) on employees, and that information is usually quite insightful. When you analyze demographics, you may be surprised to find out you’re one of the few people in your organization to do so. That will make you look especially smart.
- A survey is not the only method for measuring effectiveness. For example, behaviorial metrics are a good way to determine how communication channels are being used. For electronic communication, emails opens, unique website visits and page views are all valuable metrics. You can also track behaviors such as the number of employees who attend a town hall or who pick up a printed piece.
- Survey fatigue is a real problem—but it’s a problem that can be solved.. The problem is not too many surveys. The problem is three-fold: First , asking everyone to participate (that’s called a “census”) when just a small representative sample is needed. Second, ineffective surveys give measurement a bad name, with too many questions or questions that don’t make sense. And third, when results never get communicated or acted upon, employees think surveys are a waste of their time. Go ahead and survey. But make your survey very targeted, extremely purposeful and immediately actionable. And communicate, communicate, communicate about how you used survey results to improve your program.
- Focus groups are underrated. Focus groups are “real” research that help you explore one or more topics to ask such questions as, “How does this work?” or “Why is this so?” While it’s true that a focus group study is not a direct substitute for a survey (which is the best way to collect data that you can analyze to demonstrate progress), focus groups do provide valuable insights
- The biggest mistake communicators make when it comes to measurement is . . . not measuring. Paralyzed by fear or perfectionism, many communicators measure seldom or—worse—never. A small, imperfect survey is so much better than no measurement at all.
- The second biggest mistake? Failing to share the results—or act on them. Once you conduct research, put it to use. And take action immediately.
Thanks for joining our celebration. Here's to the next 30 years!