Outcome Surveys - The new tool For effective team communication
— February 1st, 2017
Rejoice, Internal Communicators, for you are unique. As far as I can tell every other business function can show data that illustrates the impact of their work. Sales can point to revenue, manufacturing can point to production data, marketing can quantify leads generated as a result of their efforts, customer service can give data on the amount of calls received, resolved, time taken and other such stats. R&D can report on how much they spent to produce that innovative new product that is going to disrupt the market place, and then over time calculate the return on investment. Heck even Jeremy from HR can point to metrics like roles filled or staff retention rates to show the impact of his work. Jeremy is the WORST.
But Internal Communicators, try as they might, don’t have a consistent way of showing people the impact of their work. It’s all a bit fluffy. And don’t get me wrong, this is not an easy thing to measure, if it was I wouldn’t be talking about it. Sometimes it feels like communicators have been looking in the deep dark black of the midnight hour for a solution to this issue with no success.
Current IC reporting is based on standard metrics, like page views or average time on page. And what is seductively attractive about those metrics is that there is an even flow of them. Why go looking for new, better metrics when you can generate these ones pretty easily month on month and use them to highlight trends, show areas of the business that appear to be engaged or not etc? But in a narrow context those numbers get people pretty glassy eyed if they are reading them month on month. Saying someone visited a page doesn’t tell us if they understood the message, or if the goal of the communication content was achieved. It just tells us that the employee is alive and visited the page.
So this got us thinking, and then thinking some more, and finally we thought just a bit more and then we came up with a plan, a plan so simple in its concept that we went back, sat on our porch for a while and thought some more. Outcome Surveys the trees in the garden whispered to us, outcome surveys the waves on the ocean shouted at us outcome survey.
Say IC has a big communications campaign lined up and are ready to execute. They are going to do a campaign around the corporate strategy. It’s been awhile since it was communicated to the employees and the strategy has evolved and has some new elements. Now clearly it is critical for employees to have, at worst, a basic grasp of the company strategy and hopefully a pretty good understanding of it and their role in realizing that strategic vision. So the goal of the campaign is increase the level of employee understanding of the corporate strategy, and their role in releasing the strategic vision. And what IC want to do is run their campaign and quantify the impact or outcome of their efforts.
Ahead of executing their campaign, they define a simple, short survey around strategy, awareness and understanding and send it a random sample of employees. The results of this survey give IC a baseline level on this topic. Once the survey is complete, and results collected, IC can then execute their communications campaign around the topic.
At the end of the communications campaign, once all the content has been planned, targeted and pushed out to employees across a variety of channels, once the strategy plan has been executed to the best of IC’s ability, a new random sample is generated. The same survey is then sent to this new random sample, and the results of this second, outcome survey, are overlaid on top of the baseline survey to capture or quantify the change in the levels of employee understanding of the company’s strategy and employees’ role in it.
IC can them combine the outputs of the campaign, the page views, the average time reading and the reach with the outcomes of the campaign, the quantified impact of their efforts to present an holistic view of the campaign to senior stakeholders and really show the impact of their efforts. A big step forward.