Changing Your Work: You’ll Never Know If You Don’t Ask

Changing Your Work With Intentions Of Improving

We can’t fix things if we don’t know they are broken. We can’t improve if we don’t know where we are falling short. Want to find ways to be an even better HR department or leader? Just ask. It’s easier than you might think.

Sure, sometimes it’s necessary to conduct massive surveys and crunch mountains of data, seeking out statistically significant correlations. Enormous amounts of time, money, and consultants can be spent building, deploying, and analyzing organization wide surveys. Sometimes that’s needed, but sometimes you just need a place to start and a simple, informal survey can get you going.

Let me share a real world example. Let’s say you’re trying to improve the hiring process by getting a better understanding of the candidate experience. You type a quick email explaining what you’re trying to do and send it to every new hire from the past three months.

The email might read something like this:

I oversee the recruiting process and could use your feedback. I am looking for ways to make the hiring process even better and would appreciate your candid thoughts on what went well for you and what didn’t. That will help me and my team understand what to keep, what to improve, and what to change. You can answer simply by responding to this email. (BTW – if you’d rather talk than type, I’m happy to schedule time to chat. Just let me know.) 


  1. How would you rate the hiring process on a scale of 1-10:
  2. What would needed to have been different for you to raise that score by 2 points.

Please think about your experience with the hiring process to answer questions #3 and #4 below. When you think about all parts of the process including filling out the application, communications to/from HR, interviewing, relocation, new hire orientation, meeting your new manager, etc:

  1. What was the best or easiest part of the process?
  2. What was the most difficult or most unpleasant part of the process?
  1. What, if anything was confusing about the hiring process?
  2. What haven’t I asked about that might be helpful for me to know?

Out of courtesy and also to solicit further input, you’d also send a quick email to the hiring managers letting them know about the informal survey and asking for their thoughts on how the recruiting process went from their perspective.

Is it a perfect survey? No. Does it give a complete picture? No. Are there flaws in the survey methodology? Yes. Are the responses helpful? Absolutely – they show trends, patterns, and provide great ideas for easy improvements.

As helpful as this simple approach is, it will fail if it’s not truly done with the intention of improving. This means: don’t take it personally, don’t argue with the responses, don’t use the data to punish the HR people involved, don’t use it to support existing opinions or to prove who’s right, don’t and create a witch hunt. Be curious, appreciative, and focused on continually making things even better.

It’s important to approach the results with an open mind and don’t under or over interpret meaning. Some people will say nice things just because they’re happy to be hired. Others will rant and rage about nonsense. Don’t wholeheartedly accept or dismiss the responses. Rather, look at what information might be useful. Seek to find the smallest changes that will have the biggest results and look for the changes the will ensure the process is consistently better.

You’ll never know if you don’t ask.



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