- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Lazy managers love questionnaires

No offense to questionnaires. These are legitimate tools to know what is going on! People may argue that in a large organization there is no other way to consolidate data (engagement, attitudes, preferences) than issuing these ‘things’.

I am not against questionnaires. I am against managers who rely on them as a sole source of insight at the expense of not looking at anybody in the eyes. Questionnaires taking over face-to-face conversations is decaffeinated management.

Guru of all gurus Tom Peters has been hammering around for (feels like) a hundred years the Managing by Wandering Around. Which of course has its acronym MBWA. He was right then. He is right now. There is no substitute for the floor, the desk, the cafeteria, the workstation, the watercooler. In the era of Big Data, leaders need Small data. In the era of Social Media, leaders need Social Skills.

Managers who rely on the annual Employee Engagement Survey to know what is going on (and of course dully react with the tsunami of post-results workshops) are lazy managers. Bad managers. Punto.

Depending on the goal, a questionnaire may be inevitable. But the discipline of questioning its value and looking for alternatives, is in short supply.

Show me that you have good insights on those close to you and I will accept that you need to have a bigger picture of the whole, and then the famous questionnaire may be needed. The absence  of your personal demonstration of MBWA, will  make me suspect that the system (that includes you) is lazy.

The best leaders I have ever met, wander around, see people, eat with them, visit workplaces when nobody really does (e.g night shifts).

They have a hidden anthropological gene and go around seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling. They are my heroes.

I must say, a minority. The rest become proficient at talking to a screen.