Feedback is a Gift | SixD’s Impact on CITY Laundering
Knowing your strengths, areas of development or having self awareness as a business is considered by many to be one of the most important factors when it comes to long term success.
When we assess ourselves and our coworkers, we tend to overcompensate positivity or negativity instead of seeing things how they actually are.
In order to close the gap, we need real feedback. Candid feedback is a rare commodity, but there are ways to get it, and when you do, it is just as important to do something with the information.
“We are looking for things that we have missed and also opportunities to make us better,” CITY’s President Colin Wetlaufer said. “We value real feedback, and that’s why we consistently have a third party handle the feedback.”
For the past six years, CITY has worked with SixD, and for over 15 years, the SixD team has worked with companies all across the United States devising strategies to improve performance but also help them understand the importance of valuable feedback.
Although some reports are self-explanatory, it’s usually better to have a certified coach help you sort through the results.
“It’s really important for the leaders of the company to understand the perception of their management and their organization from their key stakeholders, being their customers and their employees,” Audrey Carmichael, CITY’s SixD Coach said. “You want to really understand if you’re serving them in the way that they expect to be served.”
SixD considers feedback a gift, as it can lead to the discovery of previously unheard issues or problems. In their experience, customers are often more likely to make a note in a survey about something that’s bothering them, instead of talking about it. For employers, it’s a tool to get the pulse of how the employees are engaging in the workforce and how satisfied they are within their current workplace.
Analyzing trends is an important part of SixD’s work. While they completed their survey for CITY in 2014, they now have data going back several years that accurately display how the company has evolved and what changes have had the most impact.
“If we find that there are areas for improvement, that actually leads the managers in our process to create some projects or initiatives to address that,” Carmichael said. “Trends help us see if particular departments are having some concerns or trouble versus others. Maybe you can take some lessons learned from one set of managers to the other and do some cross-work.”
SixD’s survey method is modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige quality survey. It’s a national quality program that ensures all aspects of an organization are touched. Everything from leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, information, equipment and technology, and ethics and values are analyzed to find a common denominator and identify problems.
According to SixD, a survey isn’t necessarily everything. The overall strategic company plan has to include many different aspects including a look at operational excellence, financial performance and employee engagement. The survey process helps in making the overall strategic planning process easier and more accessible.
Anna Kurjan is an engagement coach at SixD. She spends a lot of her time analyzing trends and finding the data most relevant for improvement. To her, having a set plan for surveys and making sure it’s a regular process throughout the year is key to being able to use survey data correctly.
“We survey the entire operation, not just the leadership team, not just the management team,” Kurjan said. “We want everybody’s feedback. The numbers, while important, don’t mean anything unless you’re looking to use them to help improve.”
Part of SixD’s service is meeting quarterly with a coach like Carmichael to review the strategic plan progress and develop new annual plans. The surveys are included in that preparational process. Their recommendation is to perform a company-wide survey at least once a year. Depending on the circumstances and specific goals, there might also be shortened surveys, surveying only specific groups or focusing on specific changes that might affect the company.
“We certainly don’t want people to get survey fatigue,” Kurjan said. “If you survey them too often, they stop answering. There is that fine balance where we might not survey the entire client base. We pick a randomly generated section to get a fee,l but then prior to the annual meeting, we will focus on the entire organization and get a report.”
Kurjan and the team at SixD are constantly working to improve their survey process and make sure surveys are successful. They have gone through several iterations of what they consider their standard survey. Kurjan has worked with the team for five years and worked on two complete overhauls and several smaller iterations based on their own experience and feedback. For SixD, it was important to understand their customers’ individual needs and tailor surveys specifically towards issues. It’s an important step to ensure that questions are geared towards the right people and feedback can be implemented into a strategic plan.
Kurjan’s motivation in her job is being able to help and making sure companies realize the full potential for their customers and employees. An important aspect to her is making sure her clients understand the importance of surveys and making sure they realize why it’s not just a piece of paper but real value that they can share with their employees and customers.
“This is how we’re going to try to help you with the feedback,” Kurjan said. “Trying to help everybody understand that piece, I think, is really important.”
Worldwide, there is a tremendous amount of investments being made into surveying because successful companies do their research. Any business, regardless of what industry, constantly needs to have new ideas to stay relevant and meet the evolving demands of customers and employees, but too often ideas fail as a result of inadequate information. Partnering with an organization like SixD can help businesses streamline and access real insights that can optimize current and future initiatives that connect directly to their target audiences the right way.