Insights from employee interviews, part 1: What we want to hear

Blog Post Breakthrough Results

An organization’s most complex challenges can be learned from a whisper. In the first of a three-part blog series, management consultant Raul Tuset shares how to glean insight from employee interviews.

Want to find out what’s going on inside a company — what’s really going on? You have to talk to people. A lot of people.

At Insigniam, we do that all the time, often one-on-one. For us, interviews are grist for the mill of analysis. We want to tailor a solution to a company’s challenges and find a way to help the company unleash new ideas. But we can’t do that without knowing exactly how things are working — or, aren’t working. One of the best ways to find out what’s working is to have open, honest conversations with people.

In our enterprise transformation process, we call this the “reveal” phase.

And, to be sure, every company reveals unique challenges that require unique solutions. But there are still some common things we expect to hear about every time we talk to employees. They include:

What’s on the gossip line? Everyone gossips. Perhaps the chatter is related to potential shifts of strategy or maybe to the way a certain leader is perceived. Either way, the things that have the masses buzzing — sometimes very serious things and sometimes not — typically come out in our interviews. And often they are indicative of the character of the company. Do leaders know what’s being said? Do they address it? Is gossip way off the mark? A lot can be learned from what employees say in a whisper.

The existing points of view about how the business is working — positive or negative. Put another way: What is creating the reality that exists among the employees? A company’s results depend on the way people approach work, the common mindset that has been established, and the fundamental belief system that exists within an organization. That belief system came from somewhere. We want to know where it came from and what it is before we can ask employees to see things in a different way.

The sticking points that may be stopping progress on innovation. We want to know what, historically, the company has had a difficult time overcoming. Are there communication issues between divisions? Trouble with product development? Distrust of leadership’s commitment?

Sticking points are often the result of a business-as-usual mindset about processes that seemingly have always existed within a company and, importantly, that employees believe always will exist.

Are you listening well enough to know what your employees are talking about and how it affects your organization’s potential?

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