5 mistakes when following up on your engagement survey - and 5 things to do instead

Author - Vibeke Follmann

Are you and your team also guilty of these five mistakes when following up on your engagement survey? We will introduce five great tips for what you can do instead so as to avoid making the same mistakes again. With curiosity, involvement, and a focus on specific action, you can avoid common mistakes and instead create positive change based on the results from your engagement survey. 

The follow-up work to your engagement survey is important, because this is where you can generate a lot of value if you handle the process properly.

Here you can find great tips for how to avoid these 5 common mistakes, which we often see happen when companies have to follow-up on their engagement surveys.

1. Data is not the objective truth about your team – instead, be curious and open towards the data

Nothing can fool your mind into believing in facts and objectivity as numbers and graphs.

But the data you are given after an engagement survey is more abstract in nature. Because, contrary to measurements of physical conditions, like size and weight, the data from your engagement survey is abstract since it is about relations, trust, and cooperation.

The data from your engagement survey is a result of what exists between employees – and this cannot be measured with the same accuracy. And that is actually not the purpose of the survey. The strength of the survey is just as much in the questions it generates as in the answers it provides.

Therefore, you should read the data report with curiosity and wonder, instead of believing that the data represents the full and objective truth about your team. Ask yourself if you can recognize your team in the responses. What puzzles you? What surprises you? What makes you happy? Considering questions you can discuss in the team will be the best way to prepare for a dialog about the survey.

2. Do not come up with the solutions yourself – instead, do it together with your team

It might be easiest to read the survey and then, on that basis, decide on the initiatives that should be put in place. However, even though the initiatives you want to introduce are for the best of the employees and fit hand-in-glove with the things that the survey indicates, there is one critical element you are missing: The support of the employees. 

To begin with, you should put your own suggestions and ideas on hold, and discuss the results of the survey together with your team before you start focusing on solutions. Be curious together, both towards the challenges and the possible solutions. Your employees probably have good perspectives and ideas. And, very importantly, you generate support through involvement – after all, who does not like their own suggestions?

3. Do not just listen to the loudest voices – establish an inclusive setup for everyone

When you gather your employees for a dialog on the survey result, a few of them might be quick to speak up and explain how these numbers should be understood. These are presumably the same ones that usually speak up, and they can quickly establish group thinking. Meanwhile, some employees end up not actually saying anything or not saying what they want to say.

As manager you should instead ensure the opportunity for everyone to share their perspectives. For example, you could make smaller groups to discuss the subjects. This way, you ensure that the vast majority of perspectives are included and that more people feel heard.

4. Do not blame others – look inwards and see what you can do yourself/yourselves

It is easy to agree that the problems are with someone else. Perhaps other departments. Perhaps the management group. Perhaps the customers. But do not spend all your time in a dialog with the employees talking about what others should do. It is a lot better if you spend your time looking inwards.  

So, instead, ask yourselves: What can WE do? What is within our control and influence? How can I contribute towards resolving the problem? This way, your conversation will be far more constructive and full of opportunities.

5. Let go of the grandiose, unspecific wants – minor but specific actions lead to great change

Many good intentions have withered away because they were too ambitious and unspecific. For example, it is extremely positive to want better cooperation or clearer communication. But that is an unspecific want. What does it consist of in practice? Which behavior needs to be changed to achieve this want?

So, be very specific when choosing which actions you want to initiate on the basis of the survey. Minor actions are a good idea because they lead to big changes. If you manage to decide on some minor actions, it is also easy to follow up and evaluate a few weeks after the dialog.

Avoid these five mistakes, and generate positive changes

Avoid these five mistakes, and instead remain curious and involving. Listen to all the perspectives and focus on the conversation that you can control. And aim for minor actions that can be evaluated.

If you can replace the five common mistakes with the advice above, your chance of succeeding to create positive change on the basis of your engagement survey will increase greatly. And only when that happens will you get the most value from your employee engagement survey. 


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Vibeke Follmann

Vibeke Follmann

Vibeke is a business anthropologist and leadership consultant who focuses on company culture and leadership. With her systematic and attentive approach to, she works to strengthen HR and develop strong organizations with high levels of employee engagement.