Transparency important in creating proper action plans: Expert

'Engagement is owned by people leaders; it's not owned by HR'

Transparency important in creating proper action plans: Expert

When people managers and HR leaders wish to turn feedback into action, keeping things open and above board is always the most important function of that effort, says an HR expert.

It’s about transparency, and transparency in why you’re doing it, says Kirk Merrett, director of human resources and administration at Hyundai Auto Canada in Markham Ont.

“[In] the reporting of the sharing of the results and the action steps, transparency is key to the success of this process,” he says. “In terms of sharing the results, you couldn’t do a survey unless you’re prepared to share the results.”

“The whole process is shot if your team members think you’re hiding something. It’s much better to own up rather than hide it,” he says.

Merrett is one of the featured speakers in the upcoming HRD Employee Engagement Summit Canada online event that will take place on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and he shared some thoughts with Canadian HR Reporter about the areas he will be speaking about on the panel: “Action planning and reporting: Translating feedback into actionable insights.”

“Engagement should be a key business objective in every organization every year and to ignore it as an objective demonstrates that you don’t think it matters. The engagement surveys are a tool and also the key metric for achieving the engagement objective,” says Merrett. “Employee engagement is not a once-a-year activity around survey time; action steps need to be carried out throughout the year.”

It’s also critical to dig down deeply within the employee base, to get the most pertinent results, he says.

“In terms of actioning and sharing results, the key point there is that reporting needs to be done at the lowest level possible for it to have the most meaning. For example, in one division, we have three levels of people managers in the hierarchy; you want to get it down to the lowest level possible while still maintaining anonymity. The smaller groups allow for more targeted actions and result in the biggest improvements.”

Kirk Merrett

Once those results have been disseminated, they need to be turned into an action plan, says Merrett but, “it shouldn’t be done by managers and then presented as a done deal: action planning needs to involve team members.”

“[One of] the critical skills for a manager are knowing the strengths and opportunities of their people and how best to use them to solve the problem,” he says.

Once that plan is launched, each step should be given to a team member, and given a due date, says Merrett.

“HR’s role in that should be asking for action-step updates from business leaders a couple times a year to ensure that the action plan is getting followed through. Engagement is owned by people leaders; it’s not owned by HR.”

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