Which pot of gold is at the end of your rainbow, at the end of your Dialogue with your people? Using focused, open questions you give them a sense of direction. Direction will help you reach your destination, your gold. What is this destination? What do you want to achieve with your Dialogue? What is our advice to create solid questions? Where do you start? Stephen Covey already said it in his best-selling book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”: start with the end in sight. Whether it’s your day, a new project at work, or your new Dialogue!
So what do you want to achieve and why? We have listed how you can best design your Dialogue with the end in sight first. That gives a lot of peace of mind. And as soon as you click on the activate button of your Dialogue, your questions, you can lean back. Or do something else.
What do you need to consider before you start?
– Deadlines and stakeholders
– Understand your target group
– Analyse results
– Monitor your Dialogue
– Visualise & monitor success
– Design your Dialogue: create your questions
Ok, now let’s get to work on these points!
Firstly, your deadlines. Your Dialogue does not go on forever, nor is it a closed-ended survey. You go way beyond that with open-ended questions and multiple rounds. You can read about the difference between Dialogue and Survey here. There is a start (Round 1) and then Round 2. Two rounds, because some questions have a 2nd Round. In that 2nd Round there are several small, attractive steps to realize and structure the dialogue. It is nice to have a deadline for each round, because you want to work with the results. Others are probably waiting for the results. Moreover, your participants need focus; you need to make a questionnaire that is short, powerful, attractive and with strong content, preferably 3 – 5 questions. Not another online discussion group, and do them a favour: no survey with generic questions. So when do you end the lead time of those rounds? When do you need or want to work with the results? Who is curious to know about the insights of your Dialogue? Take 2-3 days into account for each round. In other words, count on 6 days from the end of your Dialogue. Now you know your start date. We recommend not to start on a Monday (a busy day for everyone), and not on a Friday (people often have their minds on the weekend!). And we don’t recommend starting the second round on a Monday, because you’ll probably set the reminder for Monday morning or Sunday, which are not ideal times. So, now you have the start of your planning.
Understand your target group
Next, your target group. If your target audience consists of employees or highly engaged customers, 2-3 working days per round will do. However, if your target group is very busy, we recommend booking a weekend in the lead time of round 1. If your participants are further away from you, like members of your association or citizens in your city, it might be wise to have a lead time x3 per round, so 6-9 working days per round. As a result, you spend a bit more time on recruiting people and sending out extra reminders. Of course, these reminders only go to people who have not yet actively participated. If your target group is very far away from you (little loyalty, irregular contact, or limited online), you need a serious campaign to stimulate their involvement. You then need social media and other recruitment tactics, which we are happy to tell you about in person. Or you can ask for advice from your communications expert in your own organisation.
Thirdly, bear in mind that you will need some time to go through the results afterwards and present them in a PowerPoint presentation for example. You will need about a minimum of 15-60 minutes per question. As a rule of thumb, ask 3, maximum 5 questions per Dialogue. If you used characteristics (such as age category, department, length of service, etc.) to filter the results, allow for an additional 30 minutes of analysis time per question. You can spend many hours on the data, and with the analysis tools we’ve created, that’s very tempting. We’re creating more and more tools that will very much limit your analysis time, but still satisfy your curiosity.
Our tip: mark your time well. Think about who you will need to go through the results and to prepare a presentation, so plan ahead! This lead time is in addition to the duration of the two rounds together. For example, count on 2 x 1.5 – 2 hours of analysis time for 4 questions. And an hour to put the charts in a document/PowerPoint presentation, and more time if you want to make them yourself. Don’t forget; through your dashboard you can download a standardised excel report, adapt it to your needs, and then save it as a PDF. That will speed you up enormously, and also your decision-making.
Following up your Dialogue
Fourthly, you may be the one designing and implementing the Dialogue, but not the owner of the actions that follow. Depending on the subjects you base your questions on, you must make sure that you have the most important stakeholders on board to work with the results. So make sure you plan and organise this well! It is good news for them that you are using CircleLytics Dialogues, as they provide clear quantitative and qualitative insights, with clear actions on how to proceed. Suppose your question was “What is your best idea for …. and why?” and in round 2 “Appreciate the ideas of others and explain how we can implement them in the smartest way.” Everything is combined real time so you immediately know what you can do smarter to bring the best ideas to fruition. Follow-up is important. Follow-up makes the tool easy and concrete together with your participants, but you must organise that beforehand.
Visualise & monitor success
Fifthly, the success of your actions. If you follow up on the results of your Dialogue, and roll out actions, you want to monitor, communicate and visualize your success to those involved. You can then even thank them again! Many clients use the Dialogue to make this monitoring very concrete. They use questions such as: “Because of your ideas, we started working with ….. . How well do you think this is working out at the moment? Please give a score of 1-10 and tell us what you think is going well. And immediately add the question: “What would be an additional, valuable step towards making ….. even more successful, and why? You will then create a new questionnaire. Perhaps you will repeat some of the questions over time. Challenge yourself to go through the whole process again: start at the end: what are you looking for?
Now the Dialogue itself: designing questions
And sixth: the creation of your questions. A strong Dialogue requires solid questions. They must be relevant, specific, inspiring and challenging. We have summarised all the important principles for making a very solid questionnaire in a White Paper. This is based on 1,000s of questions, Dialogues at more than 300 organisations. You can download it here (in Dutch, as of 20 April in English). Consider carefully whether some questions do require a closed scale because you also want to show figures. In that case, combine closed scales with open answers and with the 2nd round. This way you will get the best result. The second round ensures that all open answers are valued and enriched by the participants themselves. This increases the relevance and the speed with which your results are ready in real time afterwards. Take 2 or 3 sessions to come to rock-solid questions. Use our library of 600+ validated or research-based questions, or design them yourself. If more people need to approve the questions, build in some time for that (2-3 days for example). Prevent these other people from viewing your Dialogue as a ‘kind of survey’, suddenly wanting to force a lot of questions into it, weakly formulated questions, and a lot of multiple choice or other closed questions. A Dialogue is not a survey. You want to ask for opinions, and people want to give them!
Make a planning according to these tips and rules of thumb. You now know the most important activities. Your context may be different, so keep an eye on our blogs and don’t hesitate to ask us for feedback or advice. You can also check our partner page to see which consultants know a lot about your topic and can help you find your pot of gold! Time to create your own questions. And more importantly; really involve your participants in topics that matter and listen to their opinions! That is the renewed Employee Listening.
Contact us today to get started tomorrow.