Monday, October 1, 2012

SevenTablets First Happy Meter Results

As promised in my July post “Are Your People Happy?”,  I am sharing our own company wide happy survey experience with our trusted readers.  The happiness metric has always been maintained in product development but I received buy-in from leadership to administer to all members of our company community.   We followed all the guidelines in the July posting and ended up with an overall score of  4.4 out of a perfect 5.0  with an accuracy level of about 86% confidence.  In addition to the ratings, about 80% of the members that did participate in the survey results provided suggestions on what we should either ‘stop doing’ or ‘start doing’ in order to benefit the team and/or company overall.

Granted, we were fortunate enough to start off with a clean slate and all of our employee’s are hand picked in part due to their ability to ‘gel’ with the agile culture we are committed to.   However, the road has not been easy at all times and the need for passion is critical indeed.  I want to share exactly how we went about creating the happy survey, delivering and analyzing our first company wide happy meter.  A Happy Meter simply represents the happiness pulse of all members of the company at any given time to include all the parts you are about to read below.

The Happy Survey

The survey consists of 7 questions. Questions 1-3 are mandatory and weigh into the happy meter calculations.  Questions 4-6 are non-mandatory and are added into ‘happy backlog’ where all suggestions accumulate until the top item is selected to be actioned and removed.  Question 7 is a free for all to say what is on your mind at the time.
  1. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being extremely happy) how happy are you feeling about your ROLE in the company?
  2. On a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being extremely happy) how happy are you feeling about the COMPANY OVERALL?
  3. Personally, I am currently very happy outside of work related activities (disagree or agree 1-5)
  4. In order to benefit my team or the company, I suggest to CONTINUE doing the following… [free text comment]
  5. In order to benefit my team or the company, I suggest to STOP doing the following… [free text comment]
  6. In order to benefit my team or the company, I suggest to START doing the following… [free text comment]
  7. Please provide any kind of feedback you want. Remember these survey results are submitted completely anonymous.  [free text comment]


On Tuesday (8-29-12), we used survey monkey and sent the link out to our ‘’ distribution group list.  All responses were completely anonymous and members were given 48 hours to complete the survey.  After I sent out the first invite to take the survey, I walked around each area and put little hand written bright pink sticky notes that said ‘Remember to take Happy Survey before I leave today’.  Twelve hours prior to survey expiration, I sent an email reminder out and included the percentage of folks that had taken the survey so far. On average, it only took each member about 3 mins to complete and submit the survey.
On Friday (8-31-12) all the continue, stop and start comments were parsed out in their original message into a happy backlog so the management team could review each item and prioritize based on what we felt was reasonable to accomplish within our selected iteration timebox of two weeks.   We analyzed how the selected item could really be a problem and design an action plan which ended up being a part of our committable culture statement.  By the end of the meeting, I was thinking about how to involve all members of the company to rate/vote on the priority order of the happy backlog while maintaining the anonymity.  By the end of the day, I had the results posted in the all company collaboration tool (Yammer) as both a discussion item to invite additional feedback and dedicated knowledge page for all to see the latest pulse of our Happy Meter.
On Tuesday (9-4-12), teams leads gathered their members for a quick fifteen minute announcement from the president.   Posting the information on Friday allowed members time to review the happy survey results and engage in the message being delivered.  He was direct and honest about the selection process and provided personal examples of the issue and possible solutions.   He was very careful not to make reference to specific instances in the office where a person may be ‘singled out’ and suspected of submitting the said comment that was not the item for culture change.    Remember trust is key!

Lessons Learned

  • Trust: an environment where employees feel safe to speak freely is almost required in order for this survey to really have an impact
  • Transparency: if possible, publish the comments in the original submitters words.  If some are removed or words corrected, announce why it was done to teach your members the ‘right’ behaviors.  After all, this is prime time to make clear what kind of behavior is rewarded and what is unacceptable.
  • Buy-in: if management or leadership is not going to support the quest to happiness, then the best you can do is maintain this culture at a group/team buy-in level
  • Useful feedback:  include tips in the survey on a simple format to provide actionable feedback.  It is important to really think about if an item has a root cause and what are some possible solutions
  • Resist the urge: resist the nature instinct to guess who submitted a particular response.  Most all items can either be attributed to positive behavior that should be part of your company culture anyway.
  • Buy-in: our company leader must show strong ownership in this survey out the gate.  Until he/she does, it is likely that you will not get the greatest levels of accuracy in your responses.
  • Repeat: we must perform this survey again after we have tried to make improvements to the workplace
  • Trending is necessary: in terms of evaluating anonymous results, you must trend data to start making confident decisions

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