EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION SURVEY > Survey Action Planning
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Survey Action Planning
Since many are not experts on project planning, I include a few words on how to plan a project as massive as your Fifty-Two Week plan. Fortunately, you do not have to be an expert in project planning to be successful, although there are a few pointers that you should keep in mind.
Step 1: Identify Your Employee Relations Objectives
The most important thing that you must do is to identify your objective. This should include as clear a description of your vision of the objective as you can write down. Take some time to literally envision what the work environment will be like once the goal is reached. Try to describe it as vividly as possible.
Next, write down your reason for wanting the objective. Like we did for your overall vision for the organization, identify what it will mean to you personally if this objective is reached. Once again, concentrate on making it as real as you possibly can in your mind. Finally, identify the consequences of failure. What will it mean to you if you fail to accomplish this objective. Once again, envision this as clearly as you can in your mind. Write down what would happen should you fail to accomplish your objective.
The reason for this process is to get you associated with the objective as much as possible. You should go back to these objectives on a regular basis so that you can remember the vision that you identified as well as the reasons you want the vision and the consequences for not achieving it. You may go back and revise these as you think of more information or circumstances change; that is fine. The idea is to try to get as great of a vision as you possibly can in your mind.
Step 2: Prioritize Your Objectives
The easiest way to explain the process is to first ask you to take a piece of paper and to draw a giant plus symbol in the middle. Next, draw two lines, a vertical line on the left side of the plus symbol and a horizontal line across the bottom. Next to the vertical line write the words “impact to organization.” Under the horizontal line write the words “ease to accomplish.”
Now you have four quadrants. The bottom quadrants represent low impact objectives while the top quadrants represent high impact objectives. The quadrants on the left represent more difficult to accomplish objectives while the quadrants on the right represent easy to accomplish objectives. Take a look at the chart below for an example:
Next you want to begin placing your objectives on this chart in one of the four quadrants. It is actually most effective if you can create the chart on a large piece of butcher block paper or on a large white board. Then you can take each objective and put it on a large post-it note, so you can begin to build a picture of where each objective fits in relation to the others. (I have also done this on Powerpoint slides, which is a little less messy but not as much fun).
Once all your objectives are plotted it becomes clear where you should be investing your energy and resources. Obviously you begin with the “High Impact, Least Difficult” quadrant first – this is your low hanging fruit. As you begin to pick off these issues you will most likely then want to focus on your “High Impact, Most Difficult” and your “Low Impact, Least Difficult” quadrants. If you are lucky enough to get through these issues then you turn your attention to the “Low Impact, Most Difficult” quadrant last.
After completing this process you will have an excellent conception of which issues are most important and most achievable. You will also have developed some momentum for the next step in the planning process.
Step 3: Action Plan and Schedule Your Objectives
Finally, schedule completion dates for the milestones and assign team members to work on each milestone. Take a look at the sample guide below to get an idea of a project planning guide for one possible objective area.
This list of objectives, outcomes and milestones will guide all your actions during the Fifty-Two Week period. You may want to set up your calendar as a flowchart or timeline. Programs like Project are also good tools for project planning. Some set it up on a special calendar for that particular purpose. Still others keep the project planning portions in a separate binder. Whatever system helps keep you organized is the one you should use.
I have also had success using a daily action planning guide that I look at in the morning and the evening of each day. For example, imagine that you are working on five key objectives based on your survey data and visioning. Say those five areas are:
Now that is a list of some great goals that can really transform an organization. Next, create a document that has each of the five areas listed twice. The first list of five items is entitled “What I will do in each of my five key areas today.” The second list is “What I did in each of my key areas today.”
Next to each item in the list include a couple of blank lines on which you can write your plans or accomplishments. Begin each day by looking at your list and writing your goals in each of the five areas – they can be very small items, such as making a phone call or researching a web site. Try to come up with some small step you can take each day. At the end of each day review your list and see how you did.
What I have found is that this simple exercise increases my productivity dramatically. It is easy to get in a rut and forget about a key action area for a while – this system doesn’t let you do that. Even if you do just one little thing, you are that much closer to your objective. Even if you don’t do anything about your objective that day, you are forced to think about it even if just for a second or two. Eventually it becomes a habit that becomes a part of your daily routine – the first vital step to any lasting change.
As completion dates from milestones are hit or objective areas have been completed, it is important to celebrate these successes. For interim milestones, this may be just celebrated among the HR department. For larger project completions the celebrations should be firm wide. These celebrations will help keep attention focused on the organization's commitment to improve the employee relations environment and also to help generate momentum toward the completion of still further projects and objectives.
Include Employees or Fail
Let me repeat that because it is so important.
Asking employees to change without including them in the decision and planning for the change will fail unless you just get lucky. You might be able to change management procedures or policies without including others (although even this risks failure) but if you are asking someone to change for your reasons you are wasting your time. Go bang your head against a wall instead – at least the wall won’t get mad at you.
This is not saying that all problems can be solved with teams – as we learned earlier, teams are not great at solving many problems. Nevertheless, whether using a team or not, employee input (including the opportunity to object or criticize openly) is essential for a project to succeed on the long term. Forced change can be effective for a short period, but eventually employees will manage a way around the change. Lasting change occurs through the participation and consent of those doing the changing.
Using the survey
The obvious strengths of using the survey in this way are that it allows you to attack the weakest areas first and gives you a clear road map of projects. The disadvantages of the survey method have been noted before, but are worth repeating here. Surveying can be a negative intervention in the sense that it focuses attention on the problems with an organization and not the possibilities.
Appreciative Inquiry is one method to avoid this difficulty. In addition, the lowest rated items on the survey may not be the items on which the organization is prepared or capable of achieving success in the short term. Therefore, some organizations may choose to concentrate on areas that were not necessarily the weakest rated areas on the opinion survey.
Still others will not have completed a survey or Appreciative Inquiry method at all, but will list their objectives using some other criteria. No matter which method is used, it is important to remember that a survey or other method of discovery is a beginning and not an end. It should be a foundation of your project planning but not a substitute for project planning.
It is important to set quarterly and one year goals in your biggest challenge areas and to regularly review your progress in each of those areas. As mentioned above, you should keep employees informed about your progress in these areas and on the Fifty-Two Week plan itself. Finally, it is an excellent idea to conduct follow-up surveys to help gauge the progress and to identify further areas for action.
Your Fifty-Two Week calendar serves as your guide through your own personal transformation into an employee relations leader. As your daily habits change, so changes the daily interactions you have with your coworkers. The change in those interactions sets off a chain reaction that can ultimately transform an organization. Be clear about your objectives and do something each day to get you a step closer to those objectives. Before long you will be amazed at what you have accomplished.
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