Survey Logic?

zzzTrip Advisor 002Over the last few weeks, I’ve completed several surveys that I was asked to complete. One pertained to a hotel review from a stay some 3 weeks ago and the other pertained to evaluating some colleagues I work with. I’ve completed many surveys over the years. In my mind, the more surveys I review and handle, the more adept I am at spotting a good or not so good survey.

True confessions, I enjoy reviewing and completing surveys as it’s an opportunity to provide honest and objective feedback on a particular service, product or information one has received. In other words, feedback is a gift.

Because of these surveys I just completed, it reminded me of a survey I had some time ago — asked to provide honest feedback on former colleagues on my team as it was part of the 360 degree performance evaluation.

The objective of this article is to provide honest and fair critique on how well that survey went some years ago…

Survey Logic ???

So my company (employer) asks me to complete a survey. There are three members of my team who are at the level where they receive the 360 degree performance evaluation. Therefore, all other team members are asked to complete this evaluation. Before starting, the communication states the survey will take just a few minutes to complete. Hmmm. Because this is an important part of the 360 degree performance evaluation, I’m a little skeptical that it will take just a few minutes. However, I’ll take their word for it.

feedback image from enterpriseinnovation.netGood news and bad news. Good news, there are only two questions, so it may only require 5 minutes or less. Bad news, each question is free form with a 1000 character limit. Question one: what does this person do well? Give examples, be specific, be objective. Question two: where does this person need to improve. Again, be objective and fair and provide specific examples.

If you take this survey seriously, it will take more than a few minutes. One could argue that it may take 5 minutes per survey just to gather your thoughts? After gathering your thoughts, how long will that take? If you take this survey seriously, you may need to come up with examples and provide specifics on what your colleagues do well or not do well. If you haven’t done this before or haven’t recently given this topic on your colleague’s performance for this year, it may take 15-20 minutes.

Again, when an important survey like this is sent to me, let’s be honest about the time needed to complete. If they simply want me to spend a few minutes, will I be able to provide the valuable feedback management and human resources is seeking.

feedback image from

feedback image from

Or, is this simply a formality? Do they really want me to spend merely a few minutes on this exercise before checking it off my to do list? Or, are they genuinely looking for valuable feedback as part of the 360 degree performance evaluation?

It may be true that if you’re asked to complete a 20 minute survey for each of your team members, you may be less inclined to do so. Perhaps pitching this exercise as something that will only take a few minutes may increase the participation rate. However, how many participants will quickly rip through this exercise and not give it as much thought as perhaps management or HR wants because it’s only supposed to take a few minutes?

Again, preparing and designing a survey is just as important as evaluating the participation rate or analyzing the results? If the questions are poorly designed, how much credence can you put in the responses? If you get a 20 percent response rate of your colleagues with a range of one sentence response to several paragraphs, how do you quantify the responses? What about qualifying the responses? If someone composes 500 words as opposed to 20, will the former’s evaluation be given more credibility?

Would it ever be a good idea to survey on the effectiveness or design of a survey before it’s used?