September 2005

Employee Satisfaction Survey

Last month I discussed clearly defined structure. However, it does no good if you never follow up to ensure that those expectations are met.

Always be fair. If your employees are going to have bonus plans, give them the bonus plans and clearly inform them how they are going to be measured. Do this as agreed, whether it is monthly, quarterly or annually.

Being prompt with incentives is important. Many good employees have moved on to other opportunities because their management seemed unable to make decisions regarding incentives (either defining them, or later, paying them).

You don’t want to beat them out of incentives by implementing standards that are too high. Don’t design something you know they can’t make so you won’t have to pay the bonuses. That kind of dishonesty only serves to erode morale. You’ll achieve the opposite of what you want to achieve.

You might define an incentive like this: “If you deliver these stats by the end of this period, we’re willing to pay you a bonus of such and such an amount on this date.” Clearly and objectively defined, it becomes a motivator that’s reachable. That’s the kind of structure that will get you the results you desire most.

Achieving significant success in business requires that you build loyalty among your employees. You build loyalty in part by being fair and in part by setting goals that are reachable and bring reward when achieved.

To improve the quality of relationships at the point of contact, we establish an employee index that looks at the employee’s level of satisfaction.

You can do this by mailing bi-annual surveys to your employees wherein you ask questions which are geared toward understanding their level of satisfaction in their work. Try to design a method that objectively scores the survey so that you can measure improvement. If it’s too subjective, you set yourself up for distrust or favoritism. You might also consider doing this through open round-table meetings with your employees.

Ask questions like the following:
Are you allowed to do your job?
Are you happy working here?
Are the goals we set realistic?
Would you like more challenge?

The list of questions can go on and on. You can learn a great deal about your company by doing this. You will also have a better relationship with your employees because they’ll feel they’re being heard - that is, if you respond to their answers in a favorable light. There’s another benefit here that should not be overlooked. You will discover ways to ensure that your employees are happier. When they are, they’ll spread their happiness to both your vendors and your customers at the point of contact! More people will believe in you than ever before. You’ll achieve more.

No one is the perfect leader. You can’t please everyone who works for you all the time. I’m not suggesting that you patronize your employees. Neither can you constantly motivate those who work for you. You can’t even appreciate everyone who works for you all the time! By implementing a program, however, such as the one suggested here, you can actually reach all of your employees, even in a very large firm.

You may be tempted to prepare your own employee survey, but before you do, buy a copy of the best selling book First, Break All The Rules. The authors analyzed over 80,000 employee interviews. Their results provide great insight into what questions in a survey really get meaningful answers. Their expansive study produced a survey you can use. Take the survey and score the results objectively. Mail it to your employees’ homes and don’t require their signatures. You can track improvement in the scores by repeating the survey every six months or so.

Give your employees a voice and you’ll grow their happiness, which in turn will spread to both your customers and your vendors. But don’t forget - you must show your employees that you are hearing their answers to your questions.

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Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.

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