Good Surveys – Getting to the Cause and Solution to Business Problems

Surveys are often touted as a perfect remedy for any of your business’ ailments.  Whether you survey employees or customers, a survey company might claim to be able to identify your most glaring business problems.  But, as an established businessperson, you might easily identify most of these problems yourself.  The important differentiator is to identify not only the problems, but also the root causes of the problems and their solutions.  To achieve this accurate look inside your business, it’s vital to employ a company that collects valid data, employs powerful analytics, and turns the combination into a powerful plan for improvement for your company.

Root Cause Analysis

Do-it-yourself ‘monkey’ type surveys provide about as much accurate and useful insight as, well, a monkey could. If you ask your employees how they feel about their pay, they will almost always tell you they want more money. The goal is to collect broad and deep information. Composing questions that achieve that goal isn’t easy.  In fact, organizational psychologists are the best at doing it – and they’ve earned doctoral degrees to equip themselves.

While you may lament that this gives you more data to slog through, it is absolutely essential to determining the root cause of any issue. If you only have top-layer data, you will only find top-layer problems that anyone could have identified – for free. If you collect that hard (and sometimes tough-to-swallow) data, you will be able to fix the problems at their core, instead of simply placing Band-Aids. It’s most effective and efficient to make decisions that will reap long-term rewards, and that’s no different with surveys.


Collecting accurate data about your business is great, but it has limited value all by itself. The real power of this data is realized when it’s compared against similar businesses within your industry. This process is called benchmarking. Part of the benchmarking process involves normative data, which is the average score of a given survey question. As a decision maker within your company, it’s important to know how your scores stack up against your competition. Without this key data, you are left in the dark as to how you are actually doing within your industry. While do-it-yourself surveys or cheap survey companies might accidentally gather good data, you will only get quality benchmarking data through top of the line research companies.

Longitudinal Research

Continue Reading…HR Bartender

By Sharlyn Lauby

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