When it comes to what’s going on in your business, you may think you have your finger on the pulse – and that may well be the case. However, you don’t have the monopoly on business knowledge, even though it’s your business. Your team members also possess a great deal of information. And, bearing in mind they are the ones regularly dealing with customers and clients – whether face-to-face, electronically, by phone or on social media – they may well have deeper, or at least different, insights. One reason for this is that clients may be less guarded when dealing with the team than when dealing with the boss. It can make a difference!
There are a few different ways you can get that knowledge out of their heads and into a plan of action that will help you grow the business. You can hold a focus group led either by a team member or an external consultant, allow peer-run meetings (no management!) that provide anonymous feedback, or else issue a questionnaire.
In this blog, we’re going to focus on data-gathering questionnaires.
First things first – what do you want to know?
The first thing to consider is what you want to get out of the exercise. If you don’t know what you want to get out of it in terms of information, you can’t know what to put into it in terms of questions.
Are you looking for information on customers or competitors? Do you want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your own business? Perhaps you want to get an insight into how people feel about working for the business – a climate survey.
Of course, if this is the first time you’ve conducted such an exercise, you might be happy to take a fairly broad-based approach to setting questions and see what that brings up, then focus on a specific area of interest in the next round.
Either way, don’t make the survey too long.
The kinds of questions you might want to ask
Unless you want a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or a specific fact, keep your questions open and allow room for expansive answers. If you are trying to gauge attitudes or the popularity of something, you could use a Likert scale – maybe 1 to 5, where 5 is the highest rating and 1 the lowest.
Here’s a sample questionnaire for team members, using open questions:
- What three things do you think our business does well and should continue to do?
- What three things do you think our business doesn’t do well?
- What have you heard from customers that concerns you the most?
- If you were in charge, what three things would you change immediately?
- What opportunities should we be exploring?
- How can we improve communications within our business?
- What things are people not talking about openly, that should be addressed?
- What causes you frustration about working here?
- What do you believe are the key values of our business?
- What other suggestions do you have for the owners of the business?
Aim to encourage a good response
You want as many people as possible to respond, so make it easy for them. If you have an intranet, then you could use that, or else you could email a copy of the questionnaire to each team member – you could even dish out paper copies, depending on the nature of the business and the staff.
Make participation voluntary and keep responses confidential. If there’s a cause for concern, you want to know about it, and this approach should give you the best chance of being told.
Of course, you could always use an outside facilitator who guarantees anonymity, to increase your chances of participation and honesty.
Finally, make this something you do regularly, not just as a one-off exercise, and be sure to include everyone.
This can be some of the most valuable free information you can access. And, if you don’t and team members leave, that information goes with them.
We can help!
If you agree that leveraging your team’s knowledge is a great idea but you aren’t quite sure where to start, or if you would prefer an impartial party to handle a survey or focus group, get in touch. We have a lot of experience and I’ll happily share my own knowledge with you and help you get your project up and running.