Post 3 of 4 in the series
TWI Surveys administers employee engagement surveys and maintains a normative data bank of 100 questions. Each question represents a minimum of 10,000 employee opinions.
When the senior leadership team is assessed using an employee engagement survey, the respondents have less confidence in those leaders compared to their 360 feedback surveys. The numbers alone are strong evidence that proximity to the leader shifts understanding and beliefs around their leadership competencies.
So why are the senior managers scoring lower on employee engagement surveys? The questions themselves don’t tell us why, but each of these surveys had open comment questions that do inform us about the mindset of front line employees when they took the survey.
So with the grain of salt given for this subjective interpretation of comments, here is what we have learned after reading thousands of pages of comments on hundreds of surveys. The employee experience is immediate to what they are responsible for and the dynamics around that responsibility. They don’t see the complex strategic environment of the senior manager. Front line workers have their own complex set of dynamics when trying to serve a customer or fulfill a task that informs them and occupies their attention.
For the employee though, their computer might not be fast enough, or they may lack an understanding about why a program was cancelled or why a new client segment is being pursued. Their relationships are shifted when decisions are made, they have to learn new systems and, when it doesn’t suit what they believe needs to be done, employees attribute that to senior managers not being clued into their reality. Simply put, they don’t believe their senior managers get them and what they have to do. That break in confidence and trust can undermine the rest of the leadership communication efforts and results in the scores above.
So what do senior managers, human resource managers, and corporate communicators need to understand about front line employees? Those employees don’t think you understand them, or have an interest in them; and, for the most part, they don’t feel that the strategy and direction of the company has been effectively communicated.
The next post will describes the work environment and specifically some of the barriers to addressing employees’ needs.