Research: How To Parlay The Findings Of Your Research Into Results

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As noted in the first part of this two-part series, a strong response rate to a survey doesn't indicate that the survey will be the best ever or that the hard work is done. A research program should not be measured by the number of responses or the volume of data.

Rather, the success of research lies in the ability to parlay results into actions including improvement, growth, goal development and attainment.

To do that:

* Maintain top-of-mind project visibility. Keep employees apprised of project milestones with written and verbal communication. Share the survey results with pride-make the unveiling a positive, exciting event. One way to garner interest in the results is to have employees predict survey responses in advance. For an enlightening experience, involve the board. Re-affirm the significance of the project by committing to holding a focused planning session.

* Establish objectives as a group. Continue to engage the thoughts and opinions of employees by convening for the purpose of prioritizing tactics. The Delphi analysis approach-listing all ideas and then discussing and prioritizing-is an effective way to encourage individual insights, while establishing consensus as a group. This tool allows teams to quickly identify key areas and move forward with priorities. Individuals can vote on top initiatives; the outcome of strongest contenders is then deemed a group effort.

* Encourage improvement by acknowledging results. Providing rewards wherever possible and recognizing accomplishments with successes and celebrations are the basics for countering a lack of employee enthusiasm or motivation. Linking incentives to research can be useful in evaluating progress. Management can specifically tailor bonuses to those areas shown to need the most attention.

For example, if the study indicates that only a small segment of the membership has an equity line, yet a high percentage of qualified respondents show interest, this product is worthy of cross-selling. An incentive program, designed to emphasize real estate products, could encourage employees to "talk up" these loans.

Gaining value for your research investment does not require a commitment to acting on all the research data. Streamline your objectives to focus on and target those areas of essential action.

Neil Goldman is president of Member Research, a perception research firm for CUs. He can be reached at (310) 643-6753.

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