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09 / Jun / 17
By Mary Obozua

Progress is More Than Just a Number

Words of encouragement when progress isn’t as expected

Waiting for results of a much publicised, highly visible initiative such as a survey, can be pretty nerve wracking! Especially if it’s taken a while to plan, a lot of effort to communicate across the business and even more of an effort to engage and involve teams. It could also be potentially motional if on conclusion, most would consider the work done so far has been successful and feedback is already positive.

The expectation is wishful – ‘this should be good’, or ‘based on last time we should expect this conservative result…’ ‘Hope’ fills the air as after all ‘we’ve worked hard for it’.

The optimistic mood almost immediately deflates like air from a punctured balloon once the results are in and expectations have not been met.

In fact, the ‘progress’ - is marginal, an embarrassing surprise to stakeholders.

Just '1% improvement?' Is that even progress?

Questions begin to poor in as how will these results be shared. How can they considering:

All the effort put in from teams

  • Commitment from all levels of leadership
  • This is possibly the first time all teams have come together for this purpose
  • The amount of money spent
  • The ‘promise’ to share the results- warts and all
  • Those who stepped out of their comfort zone to get involved
  • We expected more, this is a difficult message to share!

 What’s the point?

In regards to a project such as an employee engagement survey, sharing results that seem like insignificant progress can be daunting.

The takeaway is this. ‘Never give up’.  Most change is transitional and happens at different levels of pace for each company. Survey Solutions Limited

We often come across companies who upon receiving their survey results express disappointment when the outcome is not as expected. That is to be expected (the disappointment), however in these situations it is important to think through the positives and there is generally scope for celebration in other areas beyond the headline numbers from the survey, for example in the process or the success of the collaboration.

These ‘other areas to focus on’ are similar to the original pain points:

  • All the effort put in from teams- cross team working and involvement links to positive employee engagement
  • Commitment from all levels of leadership- great to celebrate
  • This is possibly the first time all teams have come together for this purpose- as with the first point
  • The ‘promise’ to share the results - warts and all - doing so builds trust
  • Those who stepped out of their comfort zone to get involved- recognising those key individuals/ survey champions

Above all, this is a journey and no organisation can address all the challenges they face in one step, over a short time-frame.

It’s good to help them see that some organisations take a little longer than others to get around the bend, however most eventually do- especially the ones who see employee engagement as a transitional experience and an opportunity to get better. That journey never ends, nor should it, this is about always striving to be better, to be best.

So how do you share the +1% progress?

 As mentioned earlier, sharing improves trust and can also positively affect commitment for the next stage. Honesty is key so no camouflaging the truth, however also ensuring other improved areas are considered is necessary. We’ve seen it work when clients have sent out communication that thanks everyone who was involved, ensured the message is without blame so ‘we’ is used intermittently and poor areas and presented as areas to focus on action panning. I’ll also add to recognise key individuals and remembering although small, progress was made; a new personal best.

In conclusion, remember that moving the needle needs consistency, not giving up, keeping focus, revisiting the reason for going ahead and being positive.


Survey Solutions Limited


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