After a visit to a restaurant, stay at a hotel or an online purchase, these days you are always asked to provide your email address. Often and within a short time a request to provide feedback follows. Companies want to know how they perform: ‘Your opinion is important to us.’ They say the survey is intended to identify and find solutions to problems. But I look at the questions and think: really?
Success begins with the reason to do something, the 'why'. The starting point with a survey should be to examine if daily business operations actually meet the needs and expectations of the stakeholders. If you care about your stakeholders, you know who they are and what needs and expectations they have. Too often one is asked to give a 'score', but not asked for an explanation for that score. So, what or how to improve when the score is 'not so good'?
Even with the right principles success is not guaranteed. A good survey meets a number of criteria. The EFQM Excellence Model contains a useful tool to support this: RADAR. RADAR stands for Results, Approach, Deployment, and Assessment & Refinement. It is a structured method to question performance, but it is also a great tool to define a good approach. RADAR is relatively simple and can be used for various purposes and well suited to also create a successful survey approach.
RADAR starts with Results, the expected results, the ideal place to start with a survey. So, what do you want to know? What do you want to accomplish with the survey? For which purposes will the answers be used? With a clear goal in mind you will have clear questions. Just as important as what is who: what stakeholder groups and/or individuals will you survey? Why?
The second step of RADAR is Approach. How do you proceed now? How will you approach the target group? In which period will the survey run? In addition to the survey approach, there are two other crucial questions to answer about the survey:
A useful rule of thumb for this phase is the '5*W&H'-checklist. In other words: who, what, where, when, why and how. All these criteria are covered in a good survey approach.
The third stage of RADAR is Deployment, or to run the survey. Good preparation is valuable, but then it is time to implement in a structured way. Here too, a plan is required. Remember to measure and monitor the performance of the survey. After all, that will show if you are successful.
The last two phases of RADAR consist of Assessment & Refinement. Not the simplest steps though, because now the challenge is to be self-critical. The survey results should be transparently analyzed and translated into tangible improvements. But the survey approach itself is also subject of scrutiny: what went well and what could be improved? Were the right questions asked? Have sufficient respondents participated in the survey? Were the survey objectives met? Yes/no? Why not?
The sting is in the tail: to be critical of ones own performance is not always easy. Yet precisely therein lies the key to growth. Human evolution is characterised by 'trial and error'. To make mistakes is human and unavoidable. If and how you learn from them, is entirely up to you.
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