Five Tips for Your Next Employee Focus Groups

Linda Dulye's picture

A proven Dulye & Co. technique for checking the pulse of the organization is a no-frills employee roundtable. Here are five strategies for roundtables that get the input you need without wasting anyone's time:

1.    Keep it cozy. Invite only 10 to 12 participants to the session. The more people you have in a room, the easier it is for some of the more reserved participants to
withdraw and keep quiet. If you have a smaller group, they will feel more a part of the discussion.

2.    Mix it up. Work to have as departmentally diverse a representation as possible, depending on the topic. You want to get input from different workgroups in the organization.

3.    Set ground rules. The purpose of the roundtable is to gather input on a chosen topic. At the outset, let participants know that what they say is confidential, that you are there to listen, capture feedback and report out general comments to leaders (if applicable).

4.    Stay on track. Try to keep the session to one topic if you can. Zero-in on feedback around the new time-tracking system, benefits plans or vacation policy.

5.    Move along. Sometimes, particularly with hot topics, participants will get agitated. When you feel tempers flaring, move the discussion along. Ask others in the room to weigh in or move on to another question.

One more tip: Keep your roundtable meetings to about 45-minutes. In our experience, that seems to be the limit of participants' collective attention span. This can work to your advantage: if employees know they have a small window of opportunity to provide their two cents on the topic, they're more likely to speak up.


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