November 19, 2012
So, your survey has been sent out, the results are in, you’ve read through the comments, and now you’re ready to take action! Except that you aren’t, because just like last year, you’re probably going to file this feedback away in some barely used manila-folder icon on the server without making any substantial changes.
Instead of repeating this mistake, try thinking of survey results as a neatly wrapped gift. Whether it’s feedback from an event or an annual membership survey, respondents want their opinions taken into consideration. They are literally giving you an inside look at what they really think about you (which is as good a gift as you could hope for). The best way to use both positive and negative feedback is to DO SOMETHING with it. Here are eight simple steps to follow to prove that you’re listening:
- Form a review team – If you don’t already have a task force or committee dedicated to conducting an initial review of the survey results, create one. A small group works best (think eight to ten people). Depending on the amount of data being reviewed, a one-day meeting or a short conference call should be scheduled.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses – Organize the results for each survey question. As an example, you could sort them as “strong” versus “needs improvement.” If you have the results from previous surveys, definitely compare the results to see where you line up. It can be helpful to see if you still need improvement in the same areas as past years.
- Decide what to focus on – Pick one to three survey areas to focus your efforts, and be sure to consider whether these areas are actionable. If you don’t have the power to change, move on. If the same area shows up in multiple surveys, make it a priority.
- Involve your members – After your review team dissects the results, it’s time to share them. Draft a summary of the results and outline your focus areas. Invite your members to participate in developing and implementing an action plan for those areas. Members love nothing more than to be involved in something that will improve the organization, especially if it benefits them. If you can, offer incentives for participation such as registration discounts for your next event or a special discount on next year’s dues.
- Develop an action plan – You can do this any number of ways, and it really depends on your organization. One way is to form small groups for each focus area. Each group would be responsible for developing and implementing an action plan. Remember to set goals and measure improvements.
- Reward achievements – When the action plans begin to show results, reward those involved! If a goal to create more sponsorship opportunities for the next annual meeting was achieved, write them a handwritten thank you note or share the good news in the next newsletter. Not only will this make the group feel great, it basically guarantees their participation on the next survey.
- Share your accomplishments – Tell your members that the actions taken were a direct result of their survey responses. You can highlight the improvements in a special edition newsletter or email blast, and even talk about them through your social media channels. Not only does this illustrate how you’ve turned their feedback into positive change, it also provides a unique opportunity for you to market the organization: Thanks to your feedback, ABCD will be offering 5 additional sponsorship opportunities at the 2013 Annual Meeting!
- Build on success – Why stop here? If you can, choose another issue mentioned in the survey and tackle it the same way. Keep up the momentum to make this a year-round project. Your organization can only improve by doing so.
So there you have it. Instead of condemning your survey results to that manila-folder icon (never to be seen or heard from again), prove that you’re a good listener by initiating positive change.
Oh, and one more thing – don’t be selfish! If you’ve implemented a particularly useful post-survey process, share your successes and lessons learned with coworkers.