Understanding towards better engagement

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post, Broken bones, mended thoughts, to describe how I have been using my time away from the office with a broken leg to properly reflect on me as an employee, on me as a leader, and on my team as a whole.

Our team, your thoughts

In my post, I openly asked for ideas to help me capture the thoughts of my team in an honest way.

I wanted to develop a system to capture my teams feedback, insights and thoughts in a way that I could use to improve me and to improve the team.

And, thanks to the ideas and thoughts of Carl Taylor (learn more about him at https://theknowledgebiz.wordpress.com), I came up with a short, anonymous survey based around the following questions –

  1. What do you miss least?
  2. What do you miss most?
  3. What has made my absence easy?
  4. What has made my absence challenging?
  5. What do you want less of when I return?
  6. What do you want more of when I return?
  7. What are you looking forward to on my return?
  8. Other thoughts…
  9. What one thing can we do as a team to make us better?

Side note: You can view the survey at https://iammichaelwatts.typeform.com/to/bX8kQF.

I also made it possible for members of my team to complete it, or part of it, more than once if they thought of something different later.

And when I reflected on their responses I was grateful and relieved to read their honesty.

I know it can be daunting when you are asked to complete one of these so I was proud that they trusted me enough to do so. Their feedback has been insightful. I have learnt new things, but also had my assumptions confirmed.

Their role, their success

But this only tackled issues from one side – their thoughts about me and the team.

What it was missing was how they felt about themselves.

So I decided that I needed to capture that too.

I also wanted to use it as an opportunity to increase the engagement of the team.

I care about how engaged my team are in their work and I want them to come into work excited about their day. I want them to feel valued, trusted and that they are making a difference. In essence, I want them to feel how I want to feel. So I wanted to capture their thoughts around this.

By combining ideas by Jessica Tillyer, a creative director of SYPartners (www.leadfully.com/blog/steal-this-email-when-you-just-started-managing-someone), and Alissa Finerman, Business Coach (www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/four-ways-engage-your-team), I came up with another short survey.

I wanted this to help me to develop our team plan for the next year or so. I also wanted to capture their individual wishes too. Therefore I created the short survey to capture their thoughts about their own role in the team. But, to enable me to focus on individuals, this time it wouldn’t be anonymous.

I based the survey around the following questions:

  1. Are you clear on what success looks like in your role?
  2. What’s standing in your way?
  3. What are you excited about in your role and what gives you the greatest satisfaction?
  4. What would you like to do more of this year?
  5. What one action can I take to help you be more successful?
  6. Any further thoughts or comments?

Side note: You can view the survey at https://iammichaelwatts.typeform.com/to/HLH2XT.

I sent the survey out to the team a couple of hours ago and will reflect on their responses as I develop my own improvement plan for when I do return to work. This will then feed into a team plan and into each individual plan too.

I’ll share what I can from my own improvement plan when I have got it to a stage that I am happy to share.

Here’s to progress.


One of the key elements of this review has been confidentiality.

Although I have shared my approach via my blog, I have made it clear throughout the process to my team that what they tell me is, and will remain, confidential. I will not share it within the team.

I believe that this has enabled the individuals within my team to give me their honest feedback – I would recommend that if you do something similar, that you take the same approach. 

2 thoughts on “Understanding towards better engagement

  1. I really liked this Michael and, in a timely manner (!) I’m going to try out your questions in a series of one-to-ones I am having tomorrow with a new client. I’m making just one change … converting you first question to a more ‘open’ question, i.e. “How clear are you about what success looks like in your role?”

  2. Thanks Carl. I like your change to that question. I might need to borrow that… I’d love to hear how it goes and if you learn anything from it, especially if you’ve got any ideas for improvements/tweaks/additions 🙂

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