I’ve coached many executives over the years. One of the questions I ask is whether they spend more time reading about other companies’ stories or creating experiments and stories of their own. More than half of the executives admit that they spend more time focusing on the outside than looking on the inside. To help executives, I encourage them to play social scientist.
- Be a good observer. Step back and take a mile-high view of the environment. Look at the situation with fresh eyes. If you were a social scientist who walked into your company today, what would you observe about it? Simply being “present” in your situation is the best way to be an observer of it.
- Conduct surveys. Social scientists love surveys. You can ask any question you want. Let your imagination be your guide. Consider creating a Survey Question of the Month all employees are required to answer. When this begins producing results, you might bump it up to two a month, or even one a week. Make sure that these surveys solicit ideas, as well as opinions.
- Generate data. The next step is to translate your observations and survey results into data you can use. For example, what do your observations and survey results tell you are the 20% of critical factors that would generate 80% of the desired results? Usually this 20% consists of three things. What’s the data around it?
- Run experiments to verify your data. Now that have some information, play with it. If employees tell you that what they want more than anything else are improved benefits, then dig deeper. Create experiments that compare the perceived value of improved benefits versus other equally attractive options.
- Finally, publish your results. Educate your stakeholders on what you’ve learned and how using this valuable information can improve their career and the company. Of course, when you publish your results, you’ll be open to critical judgment, as well as praise and understanding. That’s what comes with sticking your neck out.
P.S. HR That Works Tools to consider using include a variety of employee surveys, HR department survey, benchmarking report, and tools.