Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Meeting Employee Expectations: Exploring Change through Employee Feedback. (Guest Commentary)

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Meeting Employee Expectations: Exploring Change through Employee Feedback. (Guest Commentary)

Article excerpt


In Texas, the City of Piano Environmental Health Department has employed a management assessment tool (MAT) to gather feedback from departmental team members. Figures 1, 2, and 3 give the survey format. The purpose of this survey in contrast to that of classic 360-degree evaluation models that utilize full-circle feedback, was to provide a limited-scope vehicle through which departmental management could examine their job performance as seen through the eyes of employees (Hickok, 1995). The tool was designed to assist managers in contemplating what is working and what needs to change--that is, to compare the core practices and behaviors employees perceive as being performed with the practices and behaviors they expect. The department wanted to explore the potential of this survey, in both organizational and personal terms, as an aid in developing a participatory management style and as an opportunity for growth in leadership.

Ultimately, information gathered from the survey was used to effect positive change, not only in operations, but also in manager attitudes and behaviors. These changes were accomplished by highlighting manager strengths, evaluating developmental needs, communicating, and reinforcing goals and objectives for the department (Folkman, 1996).

Survey Development and Implementation

Chuck Hickok's book, Improving Performance with Feedback, which, in its entirety, served as a model for development of the survey describes five essential steps for developing a 360-degree feedback survey (Hickok, 1995). The department followed the book's strategies for planning, designing, communicating, facilitating, and reinforcing the management assessment tool.

Planning included researching needs and benefits associated with use of the survey. The goal was to gauge perceived effectiveness of managers and invent ways to effect positive change as a result of employee feedback.

Design included examination of guidelines for selecting the practices and behaviors to be measured. This step evaluated attributes that were core to the organization and the method by which those attributes would be quantified. Leadership, empowerment, performance management, integrity/initiative, communication, teamwork, quality, and customer service were evaluated. The MAT was designed as a dual-score, gap analysis instrument that integrated an open-ended-question component. Gap analysis was conducted by assigning ascending-rank responses to descriptors corresponding to each statement (e.g., Almost Never = 1, Sometimes = 2 ... Always = 5). The Current Performance score was subtracted from the Expected Performance score to provide the "gap." A narrow gap indicated that employees desired little change in current attitude and behavior. Gap analysis scores from 0 to 1 (i.e., less than 1) were considered favorable. Scores greater than 1 were considered cause for review. All suggestions employees wrote in the "C omments" section were discussed with staff, and action was initiated to address responses that were less than favorable.

Communication involved informing organizational management of the process and purpose of the survey Communication to managers who would be evaluated was then undertaken, and the purpose and scope of the survey again were introduced. Each group expressed strong readiness to participate in the initiative. Most important however, was communication with those who would be completing the survey. It was critical to explain the purpose, gain buy-in, and elicit trust. The confidentiality of survey responses was an essential factor in receiving constructive input. Communication played another important role through sharing of the feedback with employees and discussion of action that would occur as a result of their input.

Facilitation included placing the survey on computer discs for each employee, distributing the discs, and involving the Human Resources Department as a third-party data collector and processor. …

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