We launched an employee engagement survey at work today, our first one ever, and a project that I am really excited about. What better way to learn about what is important to our employees other than to survey them confidentially? To collect hard data to learn what projects we should prioritize? To prioritize those things that will have the biggest impact? Over the past couple of weeks I’ve worked directly with the wonderful people at Culture Amp who have been so patient with me. I’ve asked endless questions about how to set up the survey, how to enter demographics, how to analyze the data. Which culminated in today’s launch.
I had some conversations with employees, mostly revolving around whether the data could be tracked back to them individually. I assured them that no, the data was confidential, and wouldn’t be reported for any demographic that had fewer than five data points. I encouraged people to be candid and honest. That the only way we could improve was to know what was working, and what wasn’t. Be honest!
In the quiet of my home this evening, I clicked on my own survey link to submit my thoughts about working at Automattic. I answered the first few questions, then came to a statement that I didn’t agree with. That I had critical feedback for.
And what happened next surprised me.
I paused before answering. Should I be completely honest? Or should I go for a more neutral answer? It’s kind of my job to make Automattic a great place to work. What did that mean if there were things that *I* wasn’t happy with? What if somehow the leaders in the company figured out what my answers were? Would that reflect poorly on me?
Let’s dissect this. I set up the survey. I *know* that answers can’t be tracked back to an individual. I’ve told this to multiple other people. And yet, there was a nagging fear that something bad would happen if I gave critical feedback (this is probably fodder for at least a few sessions with a psychiatrist). After the voices in my head debated for a while, I eventually gave honest feedback, and felt confident about my decision. But that moment of pause gave me a much greater appreciation of what we’re asking our employees to do.