I recently facilitated a workshop about creating better internal commuication surveys. A participant asked a great question: “After every town hall meeting, I ask employees to complete a survey. My open-ended question rarely gets responses. How should I change it?”

Here’s the open-ended question she includes: “What suggestions or comments do you have for future Town Hall meetings?”

Put yourself in an employee’s shoes for a moment: You make that big leap and click to participate in the survey. You’re trucking along, completing several multiple-choice questions at a good clip, then BAM, you’re hit with “What suggestions or comments do you have for future Town Hall meetings?” Can you hear the screeching tires?

The broad scope of this question makes it a challenge to answer: “I couldn’t read the slides, people attending by phone interrupted at key moments, the room was too hot…” It takes work (and time) to focus. It’s easier to leave the survey.

Being specific, even with open-ended questions, helps employees answer the question and quickly complete the survey.

Here are a three alternatives to the original open-ended question; each focusing an aspect of the town hall:

  • Is there a topic we should cover in future town halls?
  • What’s one way we could improve the Q&A session?
  • Is there one thing we could do differently to encourage attendance?
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