workplace performance

As with most things, it’s the simple ideas that are often the best AND easiest to implement. We recommend focusing on closing the Say-Do gap!

I read a really interesting article this week from Bri Williams in Smart Company titled Why did Shoes Of Prey fail? Because it listened to customers. Um, but hang on, isn’t listening to customers meant to be a good thing? Everyone is saying it is a good thing!

In this article Bri, who is an expert in a field known as Behavioural Economics, does a great job at explaining one of the problems of conducting many forms of research. There is a very big difference between what people say, and what people do! It’s not necessarily that all people deliberately lie, it’s the simple fact that we don’t always know for sure what we think or why we think it. There are different systems and processes that govern what we think we will do, and what we will actually do. This of course has a significant implication for the way companies conduct research amongst their employees!

Is there a problem with employee surveys?

At My Employee Life, we know a lot about employee surveys and understand their pro’s and con’s pretty well. Overall, we believe online surveys are a useful tool… to generate ideas and hypothesis to explore further. Unfortunately, they are used for so much more than that, which is where the problems often start. Often, survey data is collected with the assumption that these opinions are actually facts. Of course, they are merely opinions, not facts! It is this assumption that creates the problems associated with employee surveys. Here are three considerations:

  1. Rating-scale questions collect very little (but all important) context about ‘why’ a particular answer was given.
  2. No amount of statistical analysis will turn opinions into facts.
  3. Survey results are easy to ‘game’, and there is no way of knowing whether this has happened.

But this article is not about bashing surveys because when used appropriately, they are awesome. If however you want to avoid going down the same path as Shoes Of Prey, the challenge is to collect more useful behavioural ‘this is what I did’ data to close the gap between what people say and what people do.

Closing the Say-Do Gap

Just to ensure we are all working from the same information, there is a big difference between ‘correlation’ and ‘causation’. One should never confuse these terms because if you want to influence an outcome, you need to work with it’s causes, not those things that it is merely correlated with. Just because the sales of ice-creams and t-shirts go up at the same time (probably due to weather) doesn’t mean ice-creams are a cause of t-shirt sales.

If you want to improve workplace performance, you also need to influence it’s causes. The most direct way to improve workplace performance that we know of is through effective action. No amount of talking about something will make it happen, taking action does. But not just any action, effective action!

The starting point of effective action is having clarity about what actions to take (words), and then having both the will and the skills to execute on what was agreed (actions). The smaller the gap between words and action, the better performance is. It really is as simple as that. Rather than relying on employee surveys, My Employee Life allows companies, teams and individuals to be super clear about what is required, and then knowing what is really happening whilst also uncovering any blocks to effective action. Instead of using employee surveys for this purpose, you can use My Employee to collect real-time behavioural data and ensure necessary corrections and improvements are taking place in real-time.

Interested to learn more?

Click here to request a free demo of My Employee Life today.