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.

Other Great Reads:

Broken Window Theory at the Office

Broken Window Theory at the Office

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani cleaned up New York City by understanding the broken window theory. The theory suggests each problem that goes unattended in a given environment affects people's attitude toward that environment and leads to more problems (see Ivy...

read more
Binary Honesty vs. Spectral Honesty (Part 1 of 2)

Binary Honesty vs. Spectral Honesty (Part 1 of 2)

Google the term binary honesty and you will find that it does not exist. That's because we just invented the term, having defined it as follows: Binary Honesty: Marked by truth in an either-or scenario. For example, the question "Do you follow Rip Red Tape...

read more
Sharing is Caring!