Employee surveys and feedback through change

What part do you think surveying through change/collecting employee feedback through change plays in successful organisation change?

With many organisations going through mergers, acquisitions, restructures, or adopting an agile methodology, I’d love to know how you’ve found organisations collecting feedback during change to be of benefit, and if so, how?

Hi, Clara. This is great conceptually and, to my sadness and sometimes dismay, it often doesn’t happen, or at least in a concerted, sustainable way. The good news, I see this changing in the years ahead. I will admit, however, I would have thought it would have been the norm by now, especially given the scarcity of high value talent. The reality is financial considerations still drive M&A, and although finance professionals have warmed to the ideas of “intellectual capital”, “relationship capital”, “human capital” (I don’t like the term, but it’s out there), M&A is still very much an exercise in immediate optimization. Concepts like culture, workflow, engagement, innovation are all discussed (I would think), yet are they deemed important enough to act upon like, for example, conducting a survey like you mentioned. Gaining insights into how people within the workforce are thinking and feeling, as well as collecting their ideas on how to make the merger or acquisition successful, would all be immensely valuable. That being said, rarely is a forum in place to absorb and act upon such insights.

Now, my tone might mistakenly convey I’m dispirited by the lack adoption in this area, and in certain ways I am. The good news is that the tools to provide insights over time are less disruptive and more actionable than ever before. In other words, if an organization already has a survey vendor that collects and provides insight to one of the two organizations, then conducting such a survey is merely expanding the scope of what’s already in place. This is different than in years past when an “M&A survey” or other change-initiated survey would be seen as a discrete project with limited to no follow up. New tools, more frequent, better data, has now made it easier to conduct such surveys up front and, in turn, get more value from the initiative over time. In the end, there’s still a ways to go on this. I, for one, nearly always advocate for it. There are those however, depending on the situation, that deem such efforts as marginally valuable thus unnecessary. As leaders continue to evolve (and retire) I sense the prioritization of employee surveys to facilitate large scale change will elevate. Eventually I see them becoming the norm. It’ll take more time, though, more time that I, for one, would like.

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