Effective Surveys ensures the training data you gather is valid
Whether you are preparing a smile sheet to gather information about your staff’s reaction to the training or preparing tools for a needs assessment, create balanced questionnaire or effective surveys.
1 Avoid jargon (If you must use industry terms, define terms in brackets after the jargon).
2 Only ask what you need to know. Nice to know questions are not only annoying, they take respondents away from giving quality answers to critical questions.
3 Be careful when you ask for personal information, like age, marital status, and sex. Is it pertinent? Is it necessary? Is it legal? How many people will you annoy by asking?
4 Effective surveys have more general questions up front. The more sensitive the question, the later in the survey you should place it. Allow people time to warm up to the survey.
6 Explain briefly why you are asking people to take the survey. If you can, tell the respondents later what the results were or how the info changed how the company now operates or trains.
7 Make sure you have provided all possible answers to closed questions.
8 Ensure answer options do not overlap if you only want one answer.
9 An effective survey requires clear instructions. Do you want people to check one? Select all that apply? Rate in order of importance? Test the survey if you’re using software to ensure your instructions match the specifications. For example, if you want people to select one, ensure that question only allows one answer from the list.
10 Effective surveys ask only a couple of open-ended questions. Place these questions from mid-way to the end of the survey.
11 Test your survey a few times with the *target* group. It doesn’t matter if the technicians at the help desk can read your software training questionnaire if it is meant for the finance department to complete. An effective survey works for a specific audience.
12 Surveys should be used in concert with other means, such as observation and interviews. A conversation will always glean deeper, more detailed information.
These tips sound simple. But please test your survey. Or have someone like me create or at least review it. They can ensure your data will be useful we can properly phrase and format interval, semantic differential, and rank order scale questions, checklists, etc.
I’ve seen so many really bad smile sheets and needs assessment questionnaires. Do yourself a favour. Make sure your data can help improve your business’ training program which leads to higher productivity and a better bottom line.