General information

Brave New Workplace: Start with a Survey

Brave New Workplace is an ongoing exploration of tech applications that can help new employees acculturate. While this series is aimed at empowering recent hires, managers could modify some of these suggestions in order to speed the acclimation process as well. In today’s first installment, I’ll discuss developing and administering a workplace survey as a tool for developing relationships and assessing needs.

Plan: Survey Your New Workplace

Tool: Google Forms

Next Steps: Text Mining and CRM creation

Starting a new job can be a daunting proposition, and in the first few weeks on the job information gathering is often priority number one. Learning about your workplace and your coworkers is the key to making a successful start.

Developing a survey can speed your workplace acclimation. All the benefits of surveys generally- a standard set of questions, a functionally sized test group- translate well to developing workplace relationships and getting to know the systems in place.

A few disclaimers here: I am in no way suggest sending out a mass email to new coworkers on your first day asking them to fill out a survey. Such an approach may appear alienating, and disrupts the natural social process of starting your new job. When I speak of survey as a method here, I mean rather that insuring that you consistently ask a set group of questions in the standard language. Your delivery method should be appropriate to your workplace.

For my own use and organization, I created a simple Google Form. Rather than distributing the form via email, I simply asked the questions at the natural points in my orientation/get-to-know you meetings with members of my department and other department contacts. Before I began this process, I reached out to my supervisor to discuss my methodology, rationale, and proposed questions. With her feedback, I refined my questions, and incorporated them into my conversations with my new coworkers.

My basic set of 5 questions was as follows:

  • How do you prefer to communicate about work
    1. Meeting/In-Person
      1. informal
      2. formal
    2. Email
    3. Phone
    4. LYNC Chat
    5. Other
  • Do you have any electronic resources you would love to get?

**Follow – up : What is it, and why don’t we have it?

  • Describe your average work day.
  • How would you describe the culture and workplace environment?
  • How can I assist you?

My pretty form looks like this:

CORC Front

While in my introductory meetings I would go with the natural flow of conversation, I would also insure that these questions got answered, usually just interspersing them at the right time. As a result, I wound up with a book full of notes that looked like this.

hand written notes

And then I took the answers and put them into my Google Form, which created a nicely organized spreadsheet that looks like this.

Names disguised.

Much more manageable. This spreadsheet served as the basis of my text mining plan for assessing opportunities and needs.

I’ll talk you through it and show you the ropes in the next installment of Brave New Workplace, coming November 25th!