By Jason Lauritsen

Employee engagement surveys are a pretty big deal in a lot companies.  It makes sense that leaders want to understand how engaged their employees are with their business.  After all, who wouldn’t want employees who are switched on and putting in extra effort in their jobs?  It also makes sense that an all employee survey is the most efficient way to gather this kind of information.

Then, it’s time to make some changes—presumably changes that will increase our employee engagement level and then our company results.

But, before you go and invest too much time and money in making changes based on your engagement survey results, ask yourself this one, really important question:

How do you know if you are listening to the right employees?

Not all employees are created equal.  All leaders know that.  There are employees who are driving our business results and those, at the other end of the spectrum, who are hanging around waiting to see if we’ll ever get up the guts to fire them.  And certainly, the opinions of different employees like these shouldn’t be treated as equal when it comes to how to manage the business.

The opinions of highly accountable, emotionally inexpensive employees who exhibit a high degree of commitment to results and who seek continuous improvement are highly credible.  These employees take responsibility for results even when they miss the mark.  They also mitigate the risks of a plan and make great team members.  They raise the bar for those around them.  These are great employees.  And the exciting news is that they are probably pretty engaged in your business by nature of their high personal accountability.  They aren’t getting wrapped up in unnecessary drama and distraction at work because they are too busy making things happen.  So, when these employees speak, you should listen intently to what they say.  When they ask for something, it’s likely to be a resource that will help them create more value for you and your customers.  These employees have highly credible opinions about how to make your organization not only more engaging, but more productive.

On the other hand, the opinions of employees who exhibit signs of an entitled or victim mindset are simply not credible.  These employees focus on what they haven’t got, they wait for things to happen instead of making them happen, and they find excuses and blame others when things don’t go as planned.  Their primary focused is on being comfortable, not being productive.  And they are full of opinions, bordering on being noisy, about how you could make their working environment work better for them.  And as a reward for you, if you give them what they want, they will immediately focus on what else they don’t have.  These employees drag down your environment, acting like a parking brake that tries to hold you in place.

So, whose opinion are you looking for in your engagement survey?