“Our People Are Surveyed Out” - You Sure About That?

“We’d love to survey our people but we think they’re surveyed out right now.”

If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that phrase or a near derivative. And frankly, I suppose it’s usually quite accurate. But as I’ve pondered this notion umpteen times in our work with schools, I’ve come to find that the phrase focuses on the tool and misplaces the actual fatigue.

I would propose that the phrase should really be this: “We’d love to survey but we already give so many surveys to our people. And then we get that data and the people never see it and we never gather with the people around the data to make things better so people now are just sick of taking surveys.”

Imagine you had a waiter who came to your table to take your order and then would disappear to the kitchen only to return a few minutes later to take your order and disappear into the kitchen only to return a few minutes later to take your order and then…

One would imagine you’d say, “I’m sick of waiters.” But really you’re sick of ordering food and not getting it. It’s not a “waiter” problem.

And much of the time, organizations don’t have a “survey” problem either. They have a “response to surveys” problem. At Eklund Consulting we don’t really have a “survey” - more holistically we have a long-term, data driven improvement process that improves the lives and work of educators that is triggered by a survey. We never “give a survey.” But we do use a survey to launch a robust dialogue that seeks to better understand, create connections, and promote shared responsibility.

So if you think your people are tired of surveys, make sure you’re doing the right analysis of their fatigue. Erring in your interpretation of this is is a potentially damaging element to creating a great place to work.