3 Pitfalls of Do-It-Yourself Organizational Surveys

Written by: Meghan R. Lowery, Ph.D.


Advanced technology makes designing, using, and administering online surveys easier than ever. A prominent employee survey vendor even remarked “an intern can create a survey!” In part, they are correct. Organizations often relegate survey design and rollout to internal employees, who, with best intentions, create a measure they feel will help achieve the organization’s objectives – such as measuring employee opinions or understanding customer satisfaction metrics –  but often fall short of the strategic goals.

The DIY method often leaves out integral keys to surveys – pertinent questions, accurate data, and meaningful interpretation. Though the process of actually creating a survey, from the most simplistic to incredibly complex, has been made easier through new technology, the unfortunate reality is that user error has become more commonplace.

Imagine if it was suddenly easier and cheaper to manufacture weight scales by doing it yourself. Everyone on the lookout for a good bargain would buy the discount DIY scale, assemble the pieces at home, and step on the scale. To their amazement, the scale may read they are 15 pounds lighter than they were expecting. This DIY scale also is supposed to measure height, which helps in calculating body mass index. Oddly though, sometimes the measurements are 1 to 2 inches shorter or taller than previous measurements. Now, the individual’s body mass index is not the same – inaccurate in fact – but it’s close, and the scale was inexpensive.

This hypothetical tale of woe illustrates a simple concept: because the scale is DIY, it has a higher chance of turning out to be unreliable. This problem is just one of many pitfalls that can occur with DIY surveys. Here are other drawbacks:

Asking the Wrong Questions

Reliability and validity are integral when it comes to constructing strong organizational surveys. The questions are vital for understanding what an organization actually wants to know. It is important to consider what information you want as a result – not simply what to ask. There is a phrase commonly used to describe a source of bad data: “junk in equals junk out.” If the questions are not reliable, valid, and consistent, the conclusions that are drawn from the resulting data may not be correct. For this very reason, it is important to have a professional trained in survey methodology to design, construct, administer, and even interpret survey data for your organization.

Lack of Candor

Another problem that can occur when surveys are administered by internal sources is the resulting lack of candor from the employees themselves. Receiving candid responses is vital to the success of any survey, and employees may feel they cannot answer candidly when their responses are going directly to another employee, however trustworthy that person may be. Employees may feel responses could be viewed by their boss or another decision maker, and that can be frightening! Protect their interests and gain their trust by having an outside firm complete the data collection and analysis.

Radio Silence with Feedback

Many times, individuals compiling the results deliver the information directly to decision makers, who quietly absorb the report or discuss it with peers in high-level meetings. Though there may be changes made based upon the results, the employees rarely find out how their feedback may have helped the organization itself.  Revealing the entire report will not help in providing meaningful feedback either though.

It is essential to plan through who will be listening to the end results, communicate at a level that is appropriate, and disseminate results and the planned actions in a timely manner. Sounds simple, but this step is often forgotten, which means the employees can become distrustful of how their responses might be used in future surveys. A consultant trained in delivering feedback throughout the different levels of an organization can assist in this important process.

Learn why trust is the key to high performance

Though it is easy to construct and administer a survey using internal resources, the cost of doing so may turn out to be quite high if you get inaccurate data, false results, or have to duplicate your efforts. Data you can trust is invaluable in making strong organizational decisions. Be sure you make the right decisions from the right data.

Focus less on a bargain budget survey and enjoy the cost savings that may come after you incorporate valuable feedback from valid, reliable surveys your employees feel comfortable completing.

Implementing a fully reliable survey process is more affordable than you think – and can save you a lot of time and even help with employee retention. We would love to give you more information to help you improve your organizational surveys – just click here

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PRESENTATION: Gaining Employee Commitment to Increase Business Results

Our own Dr. Tom Brooks presented on the topic of employee engagement at a recent event for CEOs.  He explored the 10 things that drive employee commitment and increase bottom line results in any organization.

Below is Dr. Brooks’ presentation so you, too, can learn the essential elements of a committed workforce and how to gain commitment from your own employees. Topics covered in this presentation include:

  • The case for engagement
  • Specific drivers of engagement
  • Connecting workplace changes and engagement
  • Motivators of a committed workforce
  • Who owns responsibility of driving engagement

You can view the presentation in its entirety on slideshare or by using the widget below.

Watch for additional events and presentations coming soon from Psychological Associates.

As the leaders in organizational and leadership strategy and development solutions, we help our clients evolve into the organizations they wish to become. We offer talent management programs for some of the top Global 1000 companies. From assessments of new recruits to executive coaching and development to team building and numerous other programs, our Ph.D.s are well-versed on the needs of our Fortune 1000 clients.

To learn more about our offerings visit www.q4solutions.com/offerings.

At Psychological Associates we offer an exceptional leadership program called Leadership Through People Skills® on a monthly basis here in Saint Louis.  Leadership Through People Skills® is an intensive, three-day event that uses real-world issues and situations to give executives the opportunity to learn and apply the interpersonal leadership skills that are proven contributors to leadership success.  It teaches men and women how to use the appropriate amount of assertiveness and compassion as a leader; and helps grow the skills that help leaders obtain goals quicker.  LTPS provides rich, personal insights about leadership effectiveness and style. It strengthens influencing and people skills. It builds successful leaders.

We have also developed a group on LinkedIn where leaders can go to network with successful leaders across the globe and receive tips and articles from us as well as other individual contributors.  Join us in our LTPS group on Linkedin!

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EVENT: Gaining Employee Commitment to Increase Business Results


Is your company achieving the highest level of productivity possible? Is your senior team truly connected to your goals?

Research shows truly motivated senior team members are more productive and more tied to company goals – and these employees seek motivation and incentives that go beyond the amount of their paychecks; they seek an emotional and intellectual bond – a sense of purpose – with their employer.

Psychological Associates will examine the intricacies executives should consider to achieve the greatest effects of a committed, engaged senior team and workforce at a complimentary Breakfast Briefing on October 30, 2012, at Cardwell’s in Clayton. The event, Gaining Employee Commitment to Increase Business Results, will be hosted by Dr. Tom Brooks, Senior Vice President Performance Consulting. Limited seating is available, so please RSVP as soon as possible.

This event is reserved for CEOs and Board Members only.  Those who attend will learn:

  • How to gain commitment through employee engagement
  • How commitment will increase productivity and returns
  • How committed employees stay longer and work harder

Dr. Brooks will present a case study that explores the ideas that drive engagement from an employee’s perspective. Attendees will leave this event with motivational ideas to gain commitment within their own organizations.

Please mark this event on your calendar and register below to join us to get the tools you need to enable your organization to seize new opportunities to grow and prosper by uncovering your hidden success.

“Gaining Employee Commitment to Increase Business Results” is a complimentary breakfast briefing, but space is limited and it does fill up fast, so be sure to register today.

Gaining Employee Commitment to Increase Business Results
Tuesday. October 30, 2012
Cardwell’s in Clayton
8100 Maryland Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105 
Breakfast will be served, seating is limited. 
Please fill out our registration form to reserve your space:

Like to handle things the old-fashioned way – talking to a real live person? Give us a call to register! 314.678.5678

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