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This article provides best practices for eliciting constructive feedback and high survey response rates.
Think of it as a Partnership
Partner authentically and transparently with participants to achieve your desired goals. For example, make sure participants understand why you’re asking for their feedback, what you’re doing in response to it, and the role they can play in reviewing and responding to the data. Also, remind them often that responses are confidential.
Ask participants to complete the survey synchronously, if possible, e.g. give them last 5 minutes of a team meeting to complete the survey.
Add the survey link and instructions to an existing shared system to treat is as a required assignment.
Offer an incentive for survey completion. Enter individuals who complete the survey into a raffle or offer a group-wide reward if they reach 80% completion.
Individuals won’t authentically engage with the survey unless they understand its purpose. Explain that:
You will use their feedback to learn how you can improve organizational conditions
You’re asking for feedback multiple times with the same questions so you can recognize whether the changes you’re making are working for them.
Their responses are confidential: You will not know how any individual participant answered a given question.
You will debrief the results and be transparent about what you are doing well and what you are trying to improve.
Participants need to know that you are paying attention to their survey responses. Otherwise, they won't take the survey seriously, and their responses won't reflect how they really feel. Take time to show that you are listening, and they will tell you how to improve. They’ll also appreciate being heard.
Here are some ways to demonstrate listening:
Acknowledge and reference their feedback in group settings. For example, when you introduce a new practice, mention that you are starting the new practice because you heard in the survey that it was important.
Debrief the results and be transparent about areas where you are doing well and what you are trying to improve.
If you have questions, seek to understand and dig deeper through discussions, peer interviews, or focus groups. Avoid disregarding or explaining away feedback.