Does Your Employee Survey Have A “Bias?”

When responding to surveys, many employees will avoid sharing negative information because they don’t want to kill the vibe… or worse, they don’t want to be perceived as a complainer. We call this the “Rosy Bias.” There’s a lot of pressure in companies to appear “positive” and encouraging, especially when the leaders talk about creating a positive, “good” workplace. It really tends to shut down important feedback that leads to self-awareness. 

One of the most important things about the Culture MRI™ is the safe environment it creates for both positive and negative feedback. We call it the “cone of silence,” and it’s our Secret Sauce.

We dedicate a lot of effort creating a safe environment, convincing people that their input – positive or negative – is part of a constructive effort. As a result, with a little coaxing, people often open up for the first time about things they might not have been totally honest about before… even with themselves. This is why it’s often so cathartic for employees, and why they feel so “heard” by the organization.

Most assessments do not explicitly probe for dissatisfaction; therefore, they don’t neutralize the Rosy Bias because they don’t take place in an environment that is convincingly “safe” for sharing negative information as freely as positive information. The bias for painting rosy pictures remains. Therefore they may only reflect dissatisfaction if the discomfort is high enough and/or the survey participants are the emboldened type. The Culture MRI™ probes for satisfaction AND dissatisfaction quite equally by carefully neutralizing the bias for rosy pictures.

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