How do you request feedback from your team? Do you send out employee engagement surveys each quarter or annually? Surveys are a great tool to provide perception data and measure whether leaders are successfully providing an environment that allows employees to reach their highest potential. The most important part of gathering survey feedback is what you do with the results.
We find that leaders generally have difficulty working through survey feedback. It can be an emotional experience. But, to make a real difference with the information that you receive, it is important to communicate the results to employees and share action plans for improvement.
We coach leaders to celebrate the wins found the data and carefully review the results to determine areas for improvement. Leadership training and skill development will build the skills that leaders need, but there’s also another dimension to consider: consistency in executing those skills.
Here’s an example of a leader who not only modeled new behaviors, but worked hard with her team to gather data and then used the results to improve. Ms. Underwood is the principal of Pepperhill Elementary School in Charleston, South Carolina. Both the employee engagement and parent satisfaction surveys are administered in her school district.
From day one, Ms. Underwood’s school had the highest number of responses for both surveys, with almost 100 percent returned from parents. She also leads the district with some of the best results on those surveys.
What makes these such notable accomplishments is that her school is located in North Charleston, an area that struggles with poverty and changing demographics, including higher populations of students who are learning English as a second language. Yet despite these challenges, at no time has Ms. Underwood been out of compliance with the principles we teach—and never have we witnessed or heard of her making excuses. She sees her job as serving teachers, staff, students, and parents—and she does it all cheerfully and well. At a principal training session, we recognized Ms. Underwood’s accomplishments to her peers and the senior leadership of the district.
The way Ms. Underwood and other successful leaders communicate survey feedback and change influences how their colleagues work through the feedback, especially when there are suggestions for improvement. Accountable leadership relies on executing strategic actions consistently and effectively. The essence of leadership is creating a work environment in which people are inspired to work together to achieve a common goal. A primary responsibility of all leaders is to build and guide teams to achieve defined goals that lead to high levels of achievement and success.