Most Human Resources firms send out regular climate surveys to employees to “get a pulse from the field” regarding the corporate culture. This generally comprises an annual multiple-choice and/or fill-in-the-blank questionnaire whereby employees voice their opinions, oftentimes anonymously.
The first problem here is in the anonymity; why do we think employees want to remain anonymous? Surely folks can say what they feel without fear of reprisal, right? If not, that’s a red flag in an organization. While we should allow anonymity, especially for whistle-blowing, leaders should foster a culture of acceptance so that employees feel comfortable voicing their thoughts and suggestions without any fear of being targeted.
The second problem is this: what humans say they want and what they really expect can be completely different. Take, for example, the notion raised by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (tw: @nntaleb): People say they prefer quiet, roomy restaurants with no wait…”Yet they flock to loud, cramped restaurants with a 50-minute wait. Never ask people what they want. Watch what they do.”
This is not to say that all surveys are nonsense; it’s just a reminder that we must take our questionnaires in stride, analyzing the feedback while ensuring other measures are in-place for comprehensive analysis of culture.
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