Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.

employee survey-says A few weeks ago I had a humbling career experience.  I created with the support of our three supervisors a 7 question employee survey. I had a good feeling our organization was thriving & had a healthy culture. I thought after a tiring year of continuous, manic change initiated by various levels of government it would be great to hear good, positive feedback from the staff.

Whether it was pride, ignorance or because I read somewhere in a leadership article, we set up our “survey monkey” for anonymous responses. I was so bold to not include questions which would promote positive responses, but rather solicited ideas for improvement.

I still haven’t done the hard reflective work to find out why I took it so personal. I was tempted to delete all the data & claim technical issues. I do know it was one of the toughest evenings of my career as I read through the forty (out of 67 active staff) surveys.

I questioned “Why in the world did I do this”?

I wanted to know. I thought I knew. As I read the raw feelings regarding the stressors of our early childhood profession I realized I had so much to learn.

9 Ask the Ask Lessons:

  1. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.
  2. Share it with the whole administrative team. I debated filtering it. This has pulled our team closer as we build each other up and share ideas around common themes for improvement.
  3. Understand the psychology behind anonymous responses. People are much sharper & to the point without niceties when asked their opinion with no consequences.
  4. Resist the urge to make quick excuses & defensive responses to anonymous criticism. Let it settle, read it again. Don’t analyze it.
  5. Do not dismiss complaints. Look at it from all angles & think outside the box for solutions. Pilot the solution in smaller incubation projects.
  6. Resist the urge to make quick problem solving ideas. Take your time to respond so it’s a full, thoughtful response. Involve the staff .We plan to explore our sick policy in it’s entirety & make decisions based on the group work around issues such as; what does an opening staff do if they are ill? When are you too ill to come to work?
  7. Contact the staff who signed their survey.This continues to be delightfully rewarding as it gave insight to the individual’s response, took away the interpretation & provided the staff an opportunity to brain storm directly with administration. The meetings have spawned others as staff see & hear the positive outcomes. This is an unexpected gift. Lines of communication are open.
  8. Administration builds trust when they follow up on complaints tip toeing up to  the line of confidentiality & privacy. Too often trust has deteriorated with good staff because administration is too busy protecting privacy.
  9. Celebrate the opportunities for growth through an authentic understanding of the educator’s challenges & beliefs.

An educator wrote “I love working here because of surveys such as this”. Leadership takes a strong mind, dedicated heart but a vulnerable soul. Be brave to move the organization forward & recognize the value in each person involved in the goal reaching journey.



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