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HireMyVA Podcast 125- Work-climate Survey – How to Do It

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Episode Summary

In this episode, we discussed work-climate surveys and how we conduct them in our team. This is an excellent topic, which we will continue to explore in future episodes.

As we delve deeper into this topic, we have come to the conclusion that one of the BIGGEST MISTAKES is to conduct a survey, identify actions for improvement, and then NOT TAKE THEM! That is a huge demotivator and will CRUSH any psychological safety of the team.

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Episode Transcription

Dave Braun
Hello, folks! Welcome to the HireMyVA Team and Business Building Podcast brought to you by Yoogozi.com. And in this podcast and of course at HireMyVA, we help you to reclaim your freedom through hiring and thriving with virtual assistants without breaking the bank and that is your bank. I can draw that out a little bit more, next time I think I should do that. Hey, I’m Dave Braun,

Larry Broughton
You’re still feeling the grove. Yes, keep going.

Dave Braun
I am. yeah, you interrupted me. Stop it.

Larry Broughton
Wow, low touchy.

Dave Braun
I Am. Well, hopefully you guys know me by now. I’m Dave Braun and I’m here with my partner, a fantastic business mentor and coach, but most importantly, my good friend, advisor, Larry Broughton. The crowd goes wild!

Larry Broughton
Yes. Hello, handsome, David, how are you today? I’m good. Thank you.

Dave Braun
Good, beautiful day again here in Southern California.

Larry Broughton
We live a rough life out here.

Dave Braun
Yeah. I have to actually put a jacket on today to go outside.

Larry Broughton
You know, I’ve got to be a windbreaker, a chilly 64 degrees.

Dave Braun
Yeah, I’m cold. Okay. Well we’ve got a great question today. Yeah. That’s one of the important ones in order to know, and to improve our businesses. The question is how do I do a Work-Climate survey? Yeah, well, you know, Larry, the next episodes in 126, 127, at least the plan is that we’re going to talk about psychological safety, the importance of it and what it is, the question though, is how do you even know you have that present in your workplace? You got to start asking people and Larry, I know that you have long advocated doing a work-climate survey. So what we’re going to do is we’re just going to have a quick conversation about this. So talk to us about what it is, how you do it. And of course, many of our listeners have a very small team, maybe one person or two, or considering hiring their first person that may be a virtual assistant. So how can we do a work climate survey and get answers that are true, that the person is not giving things that we may want to just hear because we can’t really make it anonymous. But I think that a good way to approach it is we can tackle it from a general perspective that can apply to a bunch of businesses. And then we can go into some of the nuances of one or two people.

Larry Broughton
Let me riff on this for a little bit before that though, let’s talk about how the sausage is made here. You are the one who does the planning for most of these episodes I show up. I usually don’t even know what the heck we’re talking about until we get on here. So the ones for the next couple you said are going to be on what? Psychological safety. Yeah. Those may be controversial. Yeah. Good. If it’s what I think it’s you want to talk about because I’m not always an advocate for psychological safety in some areas. I think that we need to be dangerous sometimes, but I do think that we do, we have to have cultures where people aren’t ostracized or bullied those types of things. And oftentimes leaders don’t even know that that kind of stuff’s going on in the organization because they’re so focused on their own stuff and that’s a leadership problem. Right. Right. So years ago, Dave, I started learning about this kind of stuff, frankly, just in sports, when you watch sports teams, how was it? You could have a bunch of individuals that are so good, but when it comes down to team performance, they suck. And oftentimes it was because of the dynamics that are happening between the individuals on the team or the dynamics between the coach or the leader and the team members. So that’s where it first hit my radar.

Dave Braun
And in sports, it’s, it’s pretty obvious a lot of times like it wasn’t that long ago, Tampa Bay bucks, Antonio brown through office t-shirt or a Jersey in the middle of the game, threw it in the stands and walked off the field then like in the middle of the game. Yeah.

Larry Broughton
And that most likely that wasn’t because one thing happened that triggered it, this was a long tail of things that led up to this, not a long tail, but there was a long fuse that led up to this, a slow burn as they sometimes say. So then in martial arts, I saw that there were some, sensei treated their students one way and got a certain result, other students or other sensei’s and grandmasters or whatever instructors treated their students a different way, got different results. I guess I’ve always been a student of behavior watching. How do people respond to stimuli? Which is one of the reasons I loved the Kolbe A Index so much, but then truly David all came to fruition for me. Like it all culminated when I was in special forces, when I was going through the qualification course, in order to get into the Green Berets, when we were doing peer reviews on each other and realized we may have some really super high performers, but they’re jerks on the team, they’re jerks to their team members. Like you wouldn’t want them on your team. And so you could get peered out. And when they started talking about how the importance of morale on a team is, that a team that has, that has high morale has a shared cohesive vision, can out maneuver and now perform a better funded, better staffed, you know, a team or unit any day of the week. Right. And so it all started making a lot of sense to me.

Larry Broughton
And so I started applying that stuff to my business when I was in San Francisco, at my former company. And so what is a confidential work climate survey? Well, the first key is that first word confidential. People oftentimes will not give you their honest opinion if they think it’s going to backfire on them, okay. If it’s going to get me in trouble, if I’m getting my hours cut or I’m going to be somehow damaged or manipulated because I share my ideas with you. And so if you have a culture where any of that stuff is going on, don’t expect that the first couple of surveys you do will be honest.

Dave Braun
That’s a really good point. So what you’re saying is that this work climate survey is not a one-time thing.

Larry Broughton
No, it’s an ongoing thing. Now what we do in our organization, when we take on new people, for those who don’t know, have a hotel company. And when we were running over 20 hotels at the same time, what we would do is we would do the initial work climate survey within 30 days of our acquisition of the hotel to kind of get a benchmark, where are we starting? If we could do it within that first week, even better. But then we were doing six months later and then we were doing them annually after that. Or if we just felt like, Hey, our guest service scores are going down or we’re having a problem in this area or that area, we might do a kind of an impromptu work climate survey just to see what the hell is going on here. We’ve narrowed it down to about, I think, 40 some questions at this point, we asked them everything about, do you have to have the tools to do your job?

Larry Broughton
All right. So why is that important, Dave? I use this example a lot because we’ve talked about this oftentimes throughout these podcasts, in the hotel industry, imagine that you go to TripAdvisor or any of the online reviews and you keep seeing over and over again, when you’re looking at reviews, Hey, I’m going to go stay at XYZ hotel in Laguna beach. And as you’re reading the reviews of past guests who have stayed there, dusty fans, dusty picture frames, and you see that over and over again, there’s a pattern here. Right? And you, as a leader, you would ask yourself, okay, why do we keep seeing this? If people are complaining about it, something’s going on. Either people aren’t being coached up or they don’t have the tools to properly do it. And so we took over a hotel and indeed I’m using this example because this is what had happened. So we get there and sure enough, all of the room attendants like are five, four or four, 11 to five, two, they’re all shorties.

Larry Broughton
And so when we, one of the things we’d like to do is ask them, okay, what do you need to do? What tools do you need to do your job better? And right out of the gate, they, we didn’t even need to mention that, you know, they had these bad reviews, they knew it. They said, they’d been asking for dust wands, which is basically just a wand. it’s got a little attachment. We can dust on high things and be three foot four, and still be able to do your job. Should we got those and guess what happened immediately? They felt better about their job. The guest service scores jumped up. People feel like they want to be on a winning team. The team members felt like, wow, these people are actually listening to us. So all of a sudden we were getting loyalty that the former owner never got, because these room attendants kept asking for a basic tool like that.

Larry Broughton
So we ask everything from, do you have the tools to be effective at your job? Do you trust your teammates? Do you respect your manager? If you were offered more money at another job, would you take it? If a, if you were hospitalized, do you feel like your team members or supervisor would visit you? those types of things, questions that we ask. And when you’re asking these questions, do you do it on a scale of one to 10? One to five? I think it’s a strongly disagree to strongly agree. Okay. So it’s like about a five point scale. Yeah. Yep. And so that’s what we did now. We started out with many more questions than that, but we narrowed it down to about 40-44, I think is what it is at this point. Now in the beginning, Dave, we just administered this in-house, we had our office manager to do this.

Larry Broughton
Okay. And we put all over, this is confidential. Larry and his partner are never going to see, you know, these results. But when you got a few and by the way, we try not to get them to write things out because the thing is, well, they’re going to recognize my handwriting. So then we started giving laptops. You can come in and take it on the lap. If you want to type something out, you can put it on a laptop, you know, because people were saying, well, if you email it to me, you’re going to trace down the IP address. Like, believe me, I don’t have the time for that. But people will come up with reasons why not to. And the funny thing is if you have people that are at, they’re so afraid to give you their confidential information or their confidential feedback, you have a culture of distrust.

Larry Broughton
So you’ve got to ask yourself, why are they so concerned about this? So when we first did the first one, oh my gosh, did we get shellacked? We got shellacked. They took us to task and, and you had a, you probably had a writing area where they could write in comments too, and my business partner did not want to reveal how bad of a beating we got. And I said, absolutely not. No, we have to share exactly how bad it is and then we had to come up with a game plan to say, here’s how we’re going to fix it. And we had to have some very early victories or else they’re not going to trust us in this. And I said, this is so low. Now it’s not like we got ones out of fives.

Larry Broughton
It’s like, we got threes. And some of them, we got twos and some, we got fives, you know, but it wasn’t like sunshine, lollipops and rainbows and Larry land. And so I said, at least this is, this is the, this is the bottom. Everything is up from here. And we can celebrate these victories from here because still our turnover was still pretty low in the organization. So there was some kind of appeal that they were sticking around for. But as a leader, if you tell someone, I want your honest, confidential feedback, you better be ready for it. And what we found is there will always be icon toppling. You know what I mean by that? there’ll be always someone who’s going to try to knock you off the hill. The bigger your organization becomes, you will have people in the organization who thinks that Larry’s too big for his own britches, and they’re going to take, this is their opportunity to take swings and stabs and give you Barb’s, you know? You just have to accept that that’s that goes along, that goes along with it. And do you have thick enough skin to handle them. No matter how great you are, you’re always going to have a few people that are going to hate you. That’s right. Yeah. And if you don’t, then you are not pushing the envelope enough. No one is universally loved- no one. And I mean, no one. The most perfect person ever walked the Earth, they had haters. Okay. So, all right. So no one is universally loved.

Larry Broughton
So what we ended up doing is going to the entire organization and saying, okay, here’s the results that we got. Yes. This stung, thank goodness you guys gave this to us so that we can now come back and we can make it better. And here’s the action plan that we’re going to do to address some of these things. And by the way, some of these things, there’s nothing we can do about it. The building is as old as it is. Yes, does the building need to have a $10 million renovation? Yes. But we’re not going to do a $10 million renovation. So let’s figure out what are other things that we can do. I think part of the challenge though, Dave is you had said, oh, what do you do? Oh, by the way. So we just did it in house. And then as we grew, we realized people still didn’t trust this.

Larry Broughton
And so we handed it over to either, depending on my current hotel organization and my former one, we handed it over to our insurance company to do, or to our HR and our outside outsourced HR firm to deliver for us. Okay. And then they do the tabulation, they get it back to us and then people really start to trust it. Dave, the challenge, I think is what do you do? As you said, if you’ve only got a couple of team members to do this, well, I think he can bring someone in from the outside and you can set it up, make sure that you are setting, setting this up well in advance, by saying, Hey, we’re going to be doing this. I really want your feedback. I truly do. No one’s going to lose their job because of it.

Larry Broughton
And you could do it a couple of ways. You could bring in an outside mentor or leadership consultant or leadership organization, organizational development. What’s the, what’s the organizational development professional or HR professional from the outside. You know, you can go to Sharm or someplace like that. Find somebody who’s certified and come in and deliver the written questionnaire or the sit down and say, here are some of the areas that I’d like us to talk about. And then just you interview the people. Then give me a written report back. The interesting thing thing, Dave here is you need to ask the questions, whether it’s done formally or informally, you need to be clear offering queries to your team members. How are we doing? If you were in my shoes, how would you do things differently? Hmm.

Dave Braun
That’s a good question.

Larry Broughton
You know, where what’s my blind spot when it comes to leadership or dealing with our clients. That’s a good question, right? Absolutely. So don’t say to yourself, well, gosh, I only got two team members plus me. It doesn’t really matter. They say they liked me. They’re showing up. If you ask probing questions, I’ve got a former mentor, Bob Beal who says something like, if you want profound answers, you got to ask profound questions. Yes. Right. So ask profound questions, ask questions that could hurt your ego a little bit, you know? But that’s how you’re going to grow. Whether they’re saying it out loud or not, they’re thinking it. Wouldn’t it be better that you know it, and then you can address it?

Dave Braun
Well, and that’s assuming that you, that the reason that you’re doing this is because you want to grow. You want the honest feedback. If you’re doing it because you want to stroke your ego, you think you’re doing great, that kind of stuff or to say, Hey, I did it. And we’re 10 out of 10, then that’s the wrong attitude. You don’t don’t do it. So the whole premise behind doing this is that you want to have a better organization. You want to become a better leader.

Larry Broughton
My sense if you ever got a 10 out of 10 survey, you’re not asking the right questions.

Dave Braun
Yeah. So it all starts with you listeners/watcher and your attitude and how you want this done.

Larry Broughton
I think one place to start with this, of building this culture of growth, vulnerability, is this the six questions that are on the bottom of my list I shared with a bunch of these things. And I’m just going to remind again when you start asking your team members, things like, what decisions do you need from me, What problems are keeping you from your priorities, What plans are you making which we haven’t discussed? Like you’re asking them questions. You want their feedback. What progress have you made since we last met, on a scale of one to 100, how you’re doing personally and why, how can I keep you in my thoughts and prayers? You start building a culture like that when you do, and you just start asking those questions on a regular basis and you build relationships. Like I can tell you that there are people in our organization now and believe that we are not a perfect organization.

Larry Broughton
I still lose my mind, sometimes I still am less than respectful at times. But I do think that you’ll find everyone in our organization yet, Larry loves us. Larry cares about us. Larry wants honest feedback. And I don’t think there’s anyone in the organization. I don’t think because they do give me feedback. They tell me, you’ve heard it, Dave, people will say, Hey, Larry, you said, you’re not going to do this, but you’re doing this right now. Right? If we had a culture Dave, where people lost their jobs, because of that, they wouldn’t say it for sure. Right? So I think start by building a culture where questions and questioning are key to growth. It can’t just be you as the leader, sending out edicts all the time, information flowing downhill, you got to be asking for information. And the confidential Work Climate survey is a great way to do this.

Dave Braun
And Larry, you, as the leader, have to go overboard in communicating the reasons why you want to do this. There are no ramifications for them, there won’t be any repercussions because naturally, we just default to think that there will be something that will come back to bite me. I’ll give you an example. I remember leading a team at semiconductor company in the corporate world. You know, people were not willing to give their honest opinions on this stuff. And the reason was because they said, well, if I don’t, I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job. And then I asked them, who have you known in this company who has lost their job based on giving feedback, like they’re asking for none. So the reality is, is if you look at it in the organizations, most of the time, it doesn’t happen, but there’s always that worry in our mind that it is going to happen to me. So as leaders, we have to go above and beyond the call of duty, above and beyond what we would normally think and really assure people that nothing is going to happen.

Larry Broughton
Well, this is why I’m saying the first couple that you do may not be real. Yes. The results may not be honest. It could swing, it could swing too far to one direction. Like they’re not, they’re not going to say anything bad at all or the other direction where, oh my gosh, finally, this is my opportunity to give Larry his commodious. And I’m going to give him everything I’ve got, you know, it could swing anywhere, either side, right? So, but once you do this either side, I mean, once you do this, a couple of times, those extremes will drop off when people will realize, gosh, they really do want this information. We actually are being heard. We actually are improving as an organization. Maybe it will be beneficial if I don’t like something about it, maybe I need to raise my hand and say something about it so that my life gets better about it. So I would encourage people to do it’s that first couple that you get when you get tens out of tens, glowing remarks, Hey Dave, I don’t need to do this anymore. I’ve done it twice already. And they gave me amazing reviews. Why keep asking?

Larry Broughton
Well, because they’re just there. They’re watching, you know, and like I said, bringing new team members in sometimes changes the dynamics, bringing in a new client could change dynamics. A new operating model could change the dynamics. So you have to do it over and over again. So that’s, if you’re getting really good ones and if you’re getting really bad ones say, look, I’m never going to do this again. It was just too painful and it’s too embarrassing. No, listen team members are watching, like they know the real you, whether they go speak up or not, and it’s better, you know what they’re thinking then the not, you know, because you have a sense of it. They have a sense of you and this could be an opportunity and I’ve seen this happen. I’ve seen it happen to where we’re we’re leaders, because you know, you and I have been talking about this with our coaching clients for a long time where some leader was perceived one way.

Larry Broughton
And they got skewered from doing a competency work comments survey, but they handle it appropriately. They listened to what their team members are saying, they fixed some of the systems, they worked on changing the culture and they became a better organization and a better leader because of it truly. I think only good things can come out of it. If you’re honest and have the courage to deal with that head-on. Because ultimately, if you don’t do it, stuff is going to sneak up on you and it could capsize your organization, ambush you and your reputation and you’re not even aware of it.

Dave Braun
Oh my gosh. In so many ways you could start having problems with your clients. You’re going to have problems where team members could start leaving and you don’t know exactly why so it’s better as a leader to get ahead of this.

Larry Broughton
Yeah, for sure.

Dave Braun
So, and I liked the frequency you talked about, you know, once a year, if you think things are kind of smoothed out, but then if there are problems doing it, you know, maybe every six months or maybe three months, if that’s bad.

Larry Broughton
But like, if you have like a T let’s say that you got it, you’re a multiunit, something, something, and you’re based in Boise. And you’ve got a location in Chicago that, where you just feel like the productivity has gone down, the profitability has gone down, you’re getting more client complaints from that unit than any place else. Then you just do it quarterly as unique as you need to do it, you know, until things turn around, because maybe you just got a bad leader there, or maybe you could just, who knows. It could be a variety of things. You know, it could be the working conditions. It could be that they’ve got ceiling tiles falling down around them and they got water leaks. I’ve seen it, Hey, right. They’ve got a major piece of equipment that’s supposed to be producing 70% of their product and it’s broken down half the time. Yeah. There’s going to be frustration and sometimes, you know, the unit leader or the unit manager is afraid to bring this stuff up, because they think it’s a reflection on them. Yeah. There’s so many things that could come up about this

Dave Braun
Generally, a frequency then would be, is, I mean, you don’t want to do it every month, but it’s going to depend upon how fast you can make changes in your organization and really make changes. If it’s something as simple as when I say simple, as something as simple as replacing some pieces of equipment, well, you may want to do it more often, but if it’s something that’s or like a tool issue, but if it’s something that’s a little bit more related to the overall culture, then you may have to do it six months because it takes a little bit of time to switch stuff around.

Larry Broughton
Yeah. So here’s some of the challenges, Dave, you don’t want to do it so often that people become, what’s the word I’m looking for fatigued by it. Now, it does become particularly challenging if you’re not the person with the onesie, twosie, threesie, foursie by people that are working in your same office is because particularly challenging when you’ve got multiple locations and you have unit leaders or managers. Let’s say that that unit leader or manager in Chicago let’s use that example again. They feel like they got a bad, their unit got a bad review. You have to really now be, you need to have a conversation with that leader to say this, there cannot be retaliation. This is good news for us. We now have a roadmap to the future that we did not have before you are not going to lose your job because of that.

Larry Broughton
I mean, it’s a possibility if things don’t change for sure, but because of there’s one bad review, bad work climates, or you’re not going to lose your job for, but how we respond to it could elevate you or shepherd you out the organization. So if it gets back to me that people are feeling threatened, harassed, whatever it is, but you better give me a good, good mark next time. Or I know that you’re the one who said this. If that ever gets back, yes, you will lose your job for that. So how you handle how you respond as the leader, the business owner, the CEO of your organization is so vitally important. And so what I would encourage you to do is have conversations with your team prior to ever doing this, particularly your leadership team, your management team, if there is, if you do have more than just you who’s pulling on the oars on this, does that make sense, Dave?

Dave Braun
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Larry Broughton
Now I encourage people, if you’ve got questions about this, put something in the comment section here, send Dave, or I a message. We can talk to you more about this. We’ve gone into organizations and do to do this and to coach you through it, we’re available to do that as well for some ad hoc, a coaching or mentoring on this specific topic. Just let us know we’re available. But I’d love to hear from you in the comment section of wherever you’re finding this, whether you’ve done work climate surveys before in the past, and what are the, what are the results been? I’d love to hear the good, the bad and the ugly about this,

Dave Braun
Yes, absolutely. Cause that’s how we learn. Right? Exactly. Yeah. All right. Well, it sounds like it was a great episode. I mean, I got a lot out of it. Thanks Larry, for telling us about your experience on that. That’s that was really good, some great tips. And folks really take these tips to heart because they’re awesome. And thank you again for joining us to hear about how to do a work climate survey, some of the best things to do and some of the things that not to do. Remember though, building a team is the way to reclaim your freedom and building that team the right way requires these work climate surveys- It really does. And of course, like Larry said, we’re here to help you with our course and community, we do coaching and our White Glove Service, where we find a rock star VA for you.

Dave Braun
So three things we’d love for you to do we’d really appreciate it. Number one, subscribe to this podcast, if you haven’t already done. So either on your iPhone, your Android phone, and then on YouTube at the little subscribe button and click on the little bell next to it to get reminders. And then number two, give us a rating, preferably five star. But as we talked about in the work climate survey, give us your honest opinion and feedback, because that will help us really grow and do a better job of what we’re doing. Right? Leave a comment. Tell us about work climate survey that you have actually experienced and what the organization did as a response to that, or they didn’t respond. Give us the good, the bad, the ugly on that. And then the third thing is go to Hiremyva.com for more information on our course and community and our White Glove service. Remember even without experience, you’ll learn how to prepare for hire and thrive with virtual assistants. Larry and I have helped a lot of folks, we want to help you too. So just go to Hiremyva.com for more information.

Larry Broughton
All right, my friends! Do yourself a favor and do the world a favor- go do something significant today! God bless you, God keep you and God hold you. We’ll talk to you next time. We’ll see ya. Bye. Bye folks.

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