Blog News and Knowledge from CR Systems

  • All About Exit Interviews

    Group of panel judges holding score signsExit interviews. They are not what we tend to think of when it comes to the nerve wrecking interviews that we will all face at one point or other during our lives. But they are increasingly common. All good companies should conduct exit interviews. Both employees and employers can gain a lot- if they understand how to make the most of them.

    An exit interview is a face-to-face discussion or survey that a company carries out with a person who is leaving an organisation. The individual parting from the firm is able to share frank feedback about their experiences working for the organisation, and explain their decision to leave in further detail.

    It is perhaps a shame that employees tend to take an extreme view on exit interviews. They either see them as pointless or even dangerous, or they think they are an ideal opportunity to let rip about all their grievances.

    It is best not to indulge in the latter, however tempting that might be. As this article in The Guardian discusses, if there are emotions involved then it is best to see your exit interview like the ideal a parting conversation with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. It is time to let go and move on. Settling scores, calling out office bullies or making a big point of presenting a laundry list of the company’s faults is actually going to make what could be a very positive method of closure quite unpleasant for everyone.

    That said, it is important to be honest about your experience working at a firm. This is good for you as well as the company, and not just because we love to feel like we are being listened to. Being able to give incisive feedback about a company’s triumphs and failures in a way that is diplomatic and backed up by examples is a good skill to have. An exit interview is one of the best opportunities to practice this skill.

    If you are inclined to go down this route, then it is crucial that you prep for your exit interview properly. If you want to give feedback about when things have gone wrong in the company’s operations or when things have failed to meet your expectations as an employee then make a list of these specific occasions and jot down a few details in bullet form to refresh your memory. This way, you can back up any statements you make cogently and effectively in the interview room. You are going to look really unprofessional if you call your line manager incompetent or aggressive but can’t recall a specific incident. More common, perhaps is the tendency of the unprepared start on a garbled, lengthy stream-of-thought rant when pressed by your interviewer during your exit survey. Going back to the final-conversation-with-the-ex comparison, you do not want to be kicking yourself about what you could have articulated better when it is over and too late.

    If you are clear on what you want to get out of the exit interview before you go in that it can be extremely rewarding for departing employees. You might want to give glowing feedback on a great manager or team member. You may want to highlight a recurring issue that you fear could limit the growth of the firm. If you go in with a useful goal and stick to this goal throughout the survey then it should be very fruitful.

    An exit interview can also ensure you leave the company on a positive note, and make sure there are no lingering tensions that might affect the content of your reference. This is the final impression that your bosses will have of you. So the exit interview is the last opportunity to make an excellent impression and part your company with, yes, honesty but also dignity, diplomacy and respect for others.

    Exit interviews are a fantastic opportunity for companies to get a better insight into where they are succeeding and what areas they need to work at too. As this human resources article discusses, you will rarely hear employees being as frank as they are likely to be during an exit interview. What they have to say may be a revelation. It might confirm a suspicion you have about where things could be improved with the firm.

    Alternatively, a departing employees’ comments might highlight why this individual was not suited for a long term career with your company. Understanding why a person is leaving might give you the information you need to hire a person with more longevity next time.

    Clearing up any tensions and making sure bridges are not completely burned is also just as useful for companies as employees. Deeply dissatisfied former staff can be dangerous, and severely damage your reputation in terms of word of mouth, especially when it comes to hiring premier candidates to fill new posts. A well handled exit interview that ends on a positive note can help avoid this scenario, even when a person is leaving because they were fundamentally unhappy in their role.

    If a truly talented individual is leaving and you would like them to consider returning one day then the exit interview is also the perfect opportunity to make this clear in a more formal setting than leaving drinks down the pub.

    Whether employee engagement surveys could deliver better or supplementary feedback to the exit interview is an interesting question. Exit interviews can be emotional. An employee may feel more at ease being honest in an online survey than face-to-face with their bosses. Feedback is also easier to digest and process if it is in writing rather than embedded in the nervous (or perhaps irate) ramblings of an employee in an interview situation. These surveys are fully customisable so you can create your own questions too.

  • How to create a genuinely creative work culture and workforce


    What is your company culture like?

    Every company in the world has a culture of some description. Such “culture” is the environment in which an organisation’s aims are pursued. It is an important force. Business gurus consistently argue that a company with a healthy, inspiring, creative work culture and an excellent strategy will reach its full potential, whereas a company with an unhealthy, lacklustre culture and an excellent strategy will probably do well, but will not perform as well as it could.

    Shawn Parr, CEO of San Diego-based innovation and design consultancy Bulldog Drummond, articulated the relationship between culture and strategy beautifully in a recent article published in psfk: “Culture is the field on which the strategy plays. A vibrant and functional culture is like a blanket that embraces, protects, and nurtures the strategy. A company without a strategy lacks direction. A strategy without a culture that understands or embraces it is like a sports team without spirit.

    How would a creative culture benefit your company?

    “Creativity” could probably be added before “culture” in order to pin down its essence. Culture is the environment that allows ideas to emerge and grow in a firm. Unfortunately, as Parr discusses in the aforementioned article, nurturing a creative work culture is often bottom of the list of priorities, even in high-flying, professional firms. Many large corporations are run by people with skillsets relating to finance, the law and other “rational” subjects. Creative culture, which is an emotional, intangible, organic beast, can be decidedly out of the comfort zone of these high flyers. As a result, creative culture is often an avoided or even ignored subject.

    That said, even small companies or exciting new startups can find their company’s creative energy being sapped, as an interesting article published in Inc discusses. Experts offer a number of solutions. They include doing away with vacation policies and offering unlimited holidays to employees, and making working from home an option. Endless meetings are often criticised for being a waste of time and preventing employees from getting on with work. However, they are also incredibly bad for an individual’s creative energy. Giving team members plenty of feedback, even on an informal basis at the end of the day, is a good way of getting the creative juices of your staff going.

    So what else is in the recipe for creating the elusive creative environment that so many HR gurus insist will give companies a creative edge? According to this article in Medium magazine it is not the “creative individual” per se. Alf Rehn, the management professor who wrote the piece, claims that this mythical creature is perceived to be the key to how creative a company is. Creative success is then the ability of an organisation to create as many “creative individuals” as they can with the highest creative capacities possible. However, Rehn argues that companies with plenty of creatives can still fail to be creative. According to the management professor, having an environment conducive to group creativity is far more important.

    The latest research does indeed seem to be looking more in this direction. For example, Keith Sawyer has explored the notion of “group genius”. Sawyer’s thesis says that all creativity is group creativity even when it seems like it is traceable to one outstanding individual. Joshua Wolf Shenk has focused on the “powers of two” in his literature. Similarly to Sawyer, he argues that all the most impressive art and science innovations spring from collaboration rather than individual genius.

    What is the strategy for creating a creative work culture?

    So how does this idea of group creativity tie in with the working environments of today’s businesses? If you subscribe to the theories of Rehn, Sawyer and Shenk then nurturing an environment for group creativity and the exchange of ideas is the priority, not making individuals creative. According to Rehn, that means hiring more pragmatic people who have strong constructive criticism skills rather than just taking on the most creative people. This is because group creativity thrives on devil’s advocates as much as individuals bursting with ideas.

    HR practitioners may find it tricky to create the ideal environment for group creativity in the modern age: millennials are commonly charged with being terrible team players. But perhaps they just take a bit more convincing when it comes to the power of collaboration. Millennials struggle to handle criticism, according to research, so they may be disheartened if a “constructive criticiser” in their department pours cold water on their latest brainwave. However, if your organisation makes clear that this is part of the process, and an important aspect of the creative process, then this can help bring creative millennials on board.

    Millennials also need plenty of feedback, so informal discussions to discuss ideas and how they are progressing on a regular basis are a good way to kill two birds with one stone; yes, you are giving that individual feedback. But by debating their ideas you are also engaging in group creativity!

  • Social Recruitment

    social-recruitmentSocial media as a potential recruitment tool for companies is nothing new. But research indicates that both job seekers and companies that fail to look beyond LinkedIn are missing a trick.

    A fresh study on social recruitment by the web-based employment software firm iCIMS ( has found that many job seekers browsing for posts on social media are misinformed. According to the research, candidates cited LinkedIn as the top social media resource for employment openings. However, just 23% of jobs posted on social media are actually on LinkedIn. Moreover, research indicates that many of the jobs posted on Linked in target people earning more than £50,000 and over the age of 25.


    Only one percent of candidates participating in the iCIMS study said they would expect to see a job advertised on Twitter. In fact, around 51% of new openings are Tweeted. Twitter enthusiasts in the HR industry argue that successful use of hashtagging can help firms to reach out to target candidates. Compiling a list of keywords and hashtags that potential job applicants search for is a good way of making contact with the right people. Posting at the time of day that target candidates are on Twitter is also important.

    The study’s findings, based on 60,000 openings posted on social media, also reveal that employers need to make efforts in social recruitment beyond LinkedIn. Potential candidates look for postings on Facebook and Google+ after LinkedIn. Interestingly, Facebook came top in terms of conversions. That is, the number of people who saw a job advertised and actually applied for it. Jobs posted on Google + get four times as many views as they do when they are posted on other social media platforms. This gives Google + the added bonus of being great for brand awareness.

    Image-based platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest should also not be overlooked. The research found that some candidates use these to get an insight into a company’s culture and make a more informed decision about they would be right for them. It is worth pointing out that Facebook is the perfect platform for giving candidates a positive impression about what it is like to work for your company. Social Media Today recently published an interesting article, which details how Nestlé’s UK projects a fun image of the company through its Facebook page, snapping moments like their Christmas jumper day. (

    Some recruitment specialists have also been critical of LinkedIn’s limitations, even for members with paid subscriptions. In 2014, the platform came under fire for removing the function that allowed LinkedIn Recruiters to send out mass mails to members of their groups ( The removal of LinkedIn Signal makes it more difficult for job seekers to find posts by tracking the status updates of companies. Job seekers are also unable to see the salary band payment for a post unless they pay for a subscription. This is perhaps one of the biggest flaws. How effective can a job advert that does not even give a rough indication of salary actually be?

    Finally, it is important that HR gurus learn to think like millennials. These Generation Y candidates, born between 1982 and 2000, are the most relevant target when we talk about recruiting talent on social media. Top Generation Y professionals are simply not trawling for posts on job sites. They are already employed. However, they may seek to research and engage with companies via Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.
    Bottom line: if you think like your candidates, learn way they go and take the conversation about opportunities to them, talking in language they respond to, then you should start to see results.

  • Millennials in the workplace

    millenialsOne of the biggest buzz words sweeping through the HR industry at the moment is Millennials in the workplace. But who are millennials, and are they a good thing?

    Millennials are people who were born in the 1980s and 1990s and entered the workplace around the year 2000. Born between 1982 and 1994 and the children of the Baby Boomer generation, the millennials are often perceived as having been raised on mass media, digital technology and lots of positive praise. A common point of contrast is Generation X, which refers to people born after the post-World War II baby boom. Historians generally define their birth dates between the early 60s and early 80s. They first started entering the workplace in the 1980s and started to become influential in the 1990s.

    Now that millennials have entered the workplace, their presence has triggered intriguing debates about their skills and weaknesses, and how these patterns are a reflection and outcome of the unique moment in time that millennials occupy.

    Let’s start with the bad news. Millennials, or Generation Y, are not good team players, according to research. A recent study published by EY found that millennials scored badly when it came to working with others. The study was based on the testimonies of over 1,200 professionals, which focused on participants’ views of their peers. Just 45% said that their Generation Y peers were good team players. Millennials also seem to be failing to establish themselves as grafters. In the EY survey, just 39% identified millennial peers as hardworking.

    Another study by the Oklahoma-based international staffing firm Express Employment Professionals found that Millennials display “an over-inflated sense of self” and “lack of commitment”.

    This is not to mention the relentless anecdotal testimonials that you will hear from businesses across all sectors that Millennials have poor spelling, grammar and basic numeracy skills compared with older generations. That they are less equipped to cope with criticism because they used to get straight As at school due to grade inflation. That they need greater praise and feedback for their work, having become accustomed to endless “pats on the back”, rewards and progress updates during their education years. That they also lack adequate attention spans and are easily bored, the fallout of living in a world awash with technological and social-media based distractions.

    Furthermore, millennials have a reputation for wanting a lot of takeaways from their work: not just work-life balance but also flexible working, a collaborative working environment and the warm fuzzy feeling that their work makes the world a better place.

    Nonetheless, there is also powerful evidence that millennials are extremely valuable in the workplace. The technological skills of this digitally plugged-in generation are highly prized. Seventy eight percent of respondents in the aforementioned EY survey said that millennials were the most tech-savvy. Seventy percent thought they had good knowledge of leveraging social media opportunities. Millennials are also thought to be extremely enthusiastic additions to a team.

    Generation Y is good at critical and creative thinking too. This is probably a product of changes in Western education systems, which now have greater emphasis on cultivating these skills. Some evidence suggests that millennials are less motivated by money, which makes them potentially better value for money. An online survey by in 2009 found that only 17% saw “compensation” as their main motivating factor, compared with 37% citing work-life balance. Finally, many have entered the job market during times of recession, which has made them competitive, and more willing to go the extra mile to gain employment and keep it.

    Millennials are more genuine than previous generations of workers. Research suggests that they desire success for their personal development rather than just for the sake of “getting ahead”. Experience and wisdom are the things that they respect. Rather than just power. If Generation Xs can be accused of “brown-nosing” or using sycophantic manipulation tactics on their senior colleagues to get ahead, then Generation Ys are less likely to display these tendencies.

    Another advantage that perhaps gets unfairly overlooked at times is the fact that Generation Ys are more highly educated than Generation X in higher education terms. More Generation Ys have one or more degrees. They have learned skills like processing complex information, critical thinking, discipline and argument through their studies.

    Generation Y Advantages:

    Creative and critical thinkers
    Value for money
    Impressive higher education credentials

    Generation Y Disadvantages:

    Not great team players
    Not “grafters”
    Poor basic literacy and numeracy skills in some cases
    Not great with criticism
    Need constant feedback with work
    More demanding in terms of “what they get out of work” such as flexible hours

  • Healthy, wealthy and wise: how organisations use wellness programs to increase success

    wellness-programs-hrDissatisfaction and negativity can spread like a virus through an organisation, and if your company catches a cold it can be a costly matter to resolve. But how to keep employees well motivated, happy and healthy in today’s marketplace?

    Nowadays many businesses operate almost constantly in red alert mode, driving their employees hard against deadlines and causing their businesses to run on adrenaline alone. Running on adrenaline is unsustainable in the long term, however, with stress being one of the biggest causes of illness and depression, it should be of no surprise when employees start to experience ill health and a lack of drive and motivation. If your environment is set permanently to ‘fight or flight’ it will quickly burn through employee energy and goodwill, resulting in an inevitable crash.

    Of course from time to time all companies expect their employees to ‘go the extra mile’ and cope with less than perfect conditions, however all take and no give is a sign of a company out of balance and heading for a fall.

    So how can you balance the needs of the individual with the goals of the company, particularly in this challenging commercial climate? An employee wellness program provides the key. Far from being fluffy HR practice, employee wellbeing makes sound economic sense. If your employees are healthy, happy and well rewarded, they are positive, which provides the energy to get things done no matter what the odds.

    Companies that offer wellbeing packages not only benefit from being able to attract and engage the best available talent, but also from much lower attrition rates whilst having their employees operating at maximum efficiency. The result? An organisation that is able to reach its full potential and grow sustainably.

    By providing many of the things your employees need in-house, you help them to focus on the job at hand. This can mean everything from baskets of fruit and healthy lunches through to health and dental care, gym memberships and career development.

    Even companies with a limited budget can find ways to better reward their staff for their efforts. An afternoon off in recognition of a goal reached, or as a thank you for pulling out all the stops to meet a deadline, not only helps the employee to feel appreciated, but also ensures that they are well rested and better able to continue to work at their optimum.

    By cleverly combining an employee wellness program with regular appraisals and career development, there is a constant cycle of achievement and reward that helps to keep levels of employee motivation and satisfaction at an all time, super productive high.

  • Feedback Fitness Infographic

    Following on from our post from last week on Are you a listening organisation? … and how can you test for it? (Part1) below is an infograpic relating to Feedback Fitness.

    How Feedback Fit Is Your Organisation?

    How Feedback Fit Is Your Organisation?

  • Are you a listening organisation? … and how can you test for it? (Part1)

    “Feedback Fitness” reflects the degree to which an organisation can expect to receive thoughtful, honest criticism and praise from its employees. Addressing the level of Feedback Fitness within an organisation can save time, money and frustration as well as significantly improving the quality of data collected from staff and the effectiveness of decisions made from the data.

    It is becoming more and more popular for companies to seek the opinion of their workforce, whether it is via the “water cooler” and other informal means, or the formal processes of Engagement, Exit, Culture, Staff satisfaction and other methods of feedback extending to the more personal and emotive systems such as 360 degree feedback.

    The individual and collective wisdom of the company is a free and awesome tool that can offer incredible insight and potentially game changing ideas and suggestions. However relatively few organisations take the time to understand the validity of the feedback data, never mind the feedback system, and what they might do to improve it.

    Feedback Fitness Test.

    There are three factors that influence the quality of any organisational feedback:
    1. Feedback Fitness: How giving and forgiving are our staff with those around them
    2. Feedback system: How easy do we make it for them to provide feedback
    3. Feedback requested: How good are the questions we are asking

    Feedback Fitness.


    1) Feedback Fitness. The ability of individuals and groups to respond honestly, knowledgably and openly. The issues that affect the quality of feedback fitness include;

    How engaged is the leadership of the company in encouraging open and honest feedback. Without leadership that “walks the talk” any programme involving the use of feedback will be unlikely to achieve its aims. This means not just actively giving and receiving feedback, but actually being seen to act upon it.
    The greater the opportunity for formal and informal systems of feedback within an organisation, the more likely any programme involving feedback will be successful. Where are the opportunities for staff to provide feedback? What are they? How well are they maintained?
    The individual skills to both elicit and provide good quality feedback are usually considered a meta –competence (a competence without which any other. What do we need to be good at and why. Competence should be clear and understood throughout the company. It should spring directly from the strategy of the organisation and reflect the culture and the marketplace in which the company is competing.
    How much does the company show that it cares and acts upon individual and group opinion. How does It support the growth and development of each member of staff, and how is the development perceived by those taking part?
    What, if anything, is measured in terms of the quality and quantity of feedback? How is it communicated? How is it acted upon?

    If this article has struck a chord and you would like to know more about testing for Feedback Fitness we’d be delighted to discuss our Behave! model with you. Why not take our free test (3 minutes) to see how Feedback Fit your organisation might be?

    Are you a listening organisation?


  • How long does a 360 Degree Feedback project take? Infographic

    Inforgraphic of 360 degree feedback process

  • How long does a 360 Degree Feedback project take? (Part 2)

    Continuing from our previous discussion on 360 Feedback scheduling, we complete the discussion by focussing on the final three elements of a 360 project:

    4) Survey Live
    5) Managing non respondents
    6) Report publication and delivery

    4) Survey Live (10 working days)

    This is simply the time that the survey is available to be completed. There is no doubt that the longer that you leave a survey open the higher the response rate. An optimum time would appear to be between 10 and 15 working days for the official survey period. Once the period extends beyond this it is a case of diminishing return.

    A typical survey will generate an initial response within the first day or so of anything between 5% and 25% of the response population. This will increase gradually with small, sharp peaks as e-mail reminders are sent out. However it is not unusual to have only a 50% or less response rate with the last couple of days or even at the official close date of a survey. The most intense peak is nearly always seen with the last reminder. This is almost regardless of the amount of time that a survey is made available. There is little benefit therefore in extending surveys much more than two or three weeks. The exceptions to this are at the peak seasonal holiday periods, where we would recommend adding an extra 5 or even 10 working days. This is not just because of holiday absence but also because people are usually covering for their absent colleagues in this period and individual workloads often increase as well.

    Since time is nearly always at a premium, we would therefore usually recommend 10 working days starting mid-week to cover the issues of absence as mentioned previously, as long as there is an unofficial period for chasing non-respondents as described below.

    Survey response rates vary dramatically from company to company or even project to project. A typical overall response rate would be around the 50% to 70% rate with an unmanaged process, increasing to 70% to 90% with the use of e-mail prompts to non-respondents throughout the process.

    5) Managing Non-Respondents (5 to 10 working days)

    Unless the project is very small (two or three Subjects) or you are willing and able to put in a lot of time chasing individuals personally, keep your expectations realistic in terms of response rates, and do not confuse quantity of response with quality of response. There are methods to measure quality of response, but that is a discussion for another time.

    It is at this point that you should always allow an unofficial time period to chase the non-respondents. This is the hard graft part of the project where, working with your supplier (if using an external source) you will decide on the most appropriate strategy to obtain the best result that you can in the time you have allowed. There are several options that can be deployed here depending on circumstances, and since this is primarily about the time I will not dwell further on this, but feel free to contact us to discuss this further should it be of interest to you.

    A well-structured chase process should yield final response rates in the 90% to 95% area. This is the kind of number that we usually aim for, and we usually suggest 5 working days be built into the process for this stage of the project

    6) Report publication and delivery (20 minutes to a couple of days)

    Some companies can deliver reports instantly within minutes. Others, like ourselves take a little longer, because we actually review each report for fit and flow. This is particularly important when there may be a lot of written content that overflows normal page barriers. We take the care to make these fit as best possible and will reformat to ensure that the report is as easy as possible to read for each individual.

    Be sure you understand the time requirements for report delivery.

    In summary:

    • A standard 360 project can take between three to six weeks depending on process, purpose, culture and communication
    • The length of time that the actual survey is left open has relatively little effect on overall response levels beyond the first 10 or 15 working days as long as an additional chase (or expediting) period is built into the process
    • Response levels should not be mixed up with response quality

    I hope that this has given you sufficient information to understand some of the most significant time restraints within a 360 feedback project.

    Best of luck with your next 360 Feedback project.

  • How long does a 360 Degree Feedback project take? (Part 1)

    At CR Systems we are often asked the question as to the length of time one should allow to schedule a standard 360 Degree Feedback project. Before answering this, it should be noted that there is a direct link between time and quality of feedback. In this article we are considering primarily the time elements with some reference to how it can effect quality outcomes, for a more detailed review of the qualitative issues involved you might wish refer to our previous blogs or visit our Behave! process.

    In our experience the average time for a 360 Degree Feedback, or Multi-rater project as it is occasionally called, would be somewhere between 3 and 6 weeks from confirmation of content; Competence Framework, Rating scale, e-mails, survey text, report content and design. There are several factors that determine the breadth of this timescale and the tails of this range are also quite extreme; we have completed projects in as little as 24 hours from start to delivery of reports, and some projects never complete or only partially complete due to lack of feedback from critical respondents.

    In this blog I am focussing on the overall scheduling of an individual project and the areas that can affect the timing of the process. I will not examine in any detail how to optimise the individual competence framework or survey structure. This is a complete subject in its own right and deserves its own space.

    A typical project can be divided into the following 6 phases:

    1. Content creation
    2. Project set-up
    3. Respondent selection
    4. Survey Live
    5. Managing non respondents
    6. Report publication and delivery

    In this blog we will look at the first three phases

    1) Content Creation (a couple of days to many months)

    Content creation can be very simple of very complicated. It can take anything from almost no time at all; e.g. if the 360 Degree Feedback project is part of a continuing programme or you are happy to use a completely generic content set, to many months if the 360 process is being tightly integrated into development programmes aligned with company strategy or performance and appraisal programmes. So for the purposes of this discussion I am assuming that the content is approved and ready to go!

    If you would like to understand in detail the issues with content creation please refer to our Behave! process.

    2) Project Set-Up (20 minutes to a couple days)

    Most systems enable the Administrator to set-up a new project within a range of 20 minutes to several hours depending on the complexity of the project and number of participants. If you are using an external supplier for the administration they should complete the set-up and be ready to go within a couple of working days (on the assumption of course that all content has been signed off and participant details are delivered and correct).

    In nearly all cases the most important date in any project is the delivery date of the individual 360 reports, so most projects will work back from this date. The delivery date is the most critical milestone in the project; it will drive everything else in the project, so take the time to make sure that your delivery date is really understood by the supplier and the consequences of any failure to meet this date. If timescales are compressed a good supplier will also suggest options and work with you towards the best possible outcome to meet the delivery date, or even on the rare occasion have the courage to tell you that the quality of outcome you require cannot be met in the proposed timescale.

    3) Respondent Selection (A few minutes to a couple of weeks)

    To try to avoid confusion we call those selected to receive feedback “Subjects” and those giving feedback “Observers”. Since a project cannot start without the Subjects’ contact details being known we are referring to Observer details here.

    There are generally two methods to collect Observer details:

    • In advance of the project start
    • As part of the online survey process

    In Advance

    The most efficient method is to collect all the details of both Subjects and Observers before the start of the project so that they can be uploaded as part of the project set up. This can dramatically reduce the timescale for the project by as much as a couple of weeks, but depending on Subject number it can be quite tiresome and resource hungry for HR or project administrators to keep chasing non respondents.

    As part of the online survey process

    This load and associated frustration on time strapped administrators has led to the development of online selection. The first phase of the project involves send invitations to the Subjects for them to go online and select their Observers. The online database may already be populated with the corporate contact details which can also speed the process for the participants. There are several advantages to this approach:

    • Reduced internal admin burden
    • Respondents (Observers) that have been requested to complete many surveys can be highlighted and resolved in advance of the survey going live.
    • It can help in cases where confidentiality is a significant issue (and it often is) because the Subject does not have to disclose their Observer selection to anyone within the company.

    The big downside is the effect that it can have on overall project time. If only a few Subjects are involved it is not usually a concern, but in larger project, holidays, sickness, absence, travel, and other priorities can seriously impact the process. We usually therefore suggest up to ten working days for larger projects, starting mid-week if possible so that it covers three working weeks.

    One really important thing to remember, particularly in larger projects or organisations, is that the loading on individual Observers can be very high; eg managers of large departments or popular or high network colleagues can be presented with many questionnaires to complete in a short period of time and if this loading is not handled sensitively and sensibly it will have a significant effect on both quality of feedback and the time it takes to complete the project. There are several ways to mitigate this loading including staggering the project and or phases of the project, different process set-ups, sophisticated survey design etc.

    A tip here is to make sure that any system you use has the flexibility to cope with the different process requirements that these different scenarios dictate.

    In our next blog we will complete the review of the final three phases and how the time can be allocated effectively to suit your needs.