Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where can I find surveys that are valid for our organization?

When it comes to people in the workplace, one size doesn't fit all. Most managers want to give their employees feedback, and they want it to be appropriate to the realities of their organization. Yet, it isn't easy to research, develop and validate a survey from scratch. Most organizations don't have the internal resources to do so, and hiring a consultant can be an expensive project.

Off-the-shelf surveys.
Off-the-shelf surveys may seem convenient, but not all are well-constructed, even surveys associated with celebrity authors. And not all well-researched, well-constructed surveys are likely to be valid for everyone in your organization. Many of these focus on executive leadership, though few subjects are likely to be executive leaders. Even if the scope of the survey matches a person’s role, every organization is remarkably different—one size does not fit all. Furthermore, most standardized surveys are lengthy; they take too much time to complete. In almost every case, some customization will be needed for the survey to be useful and valid for the specialized industry, culture and needs of a given organization.

Customizing an off-the-shelf survey.
Most organizations solve this problem by customizing a standard survey. They obtain a well-researched, well-constructed survey. Then they add, eliminate or revise items until the survey accurately describes behavior within the organization. The procedures for researching and validating a customized survey are well within the capabilities of most organizations. Basically, knowledgeable managers and stakeholders review and revise the customized survey until they can agree that the most important aspects of a person's role are being assessed.

Access to customizable surveys
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Unfortunately, not all 360 instruments permit customization. Many require that they be administered as is; no customization is authorized. Others can be customized, but only by the publisher and at significant expense. Other products are designed with survey customization in mind. These programs have built-in functions for easy customization of survey items, scales, rater relationships, assessment media and report formats. Sample items including well-researched, well-constructed proprietary survey items may also be included.