How to measure with little time and money
By Angela Sinickas, ABC, Diva of Diagnostics
Low on time? Low on money?
No worries. You can still develop meaningful measurements. Just plan for behavior change upfront, using this three-step process.
1. Ask the right questions early.
There are so many ways we can build in outcome measures into our work without spending a lot of time or money. It just requires that we ask ourselves and our management contacts some simple questions before we develop our communication plans to deliver the communication tactic or awareness campaign they originally ask us to create:
- What makes you believe there is a need for this communication? What are you observing that makes you believe there is a problem this communication can solve?
- If this communication is successful, what will you see happening differently in the organization? Which groups will be changing the way they do their jobs?
- What’s the cost of the business problem you’ve been observing, or the potential revenue or cost-savings from the solution we develop?
Probing for potential outcomes during our first discussion with management clients can completely change our communication approach. Many of the key messages or preferred channels our clients initially request are quickly seen to be irrelevant, or even wrong.
Once we start with a desirable outcome— such as call center productivity, workplace accident rates, staff turnover, benefits enrollment or usage statistics — we simply have to find out who within our organization is already measuring that outcome.
Once we start with a desirable outcome — such as call center productivity, workplace accident rates, staff turnover, benefits enrollment or usage statistics — we simply have to find out who within our organization is already measuring that outcome so that we can begin tracking improvements in those outcomes against our new communication inputs.
While one effective way to track the correlation of our work with business outcomes is by using surveys, many other techniques are easier to use.
2. Build in action steps.
First, it helps to build action steps into communication, whether that’s a call to action at the end of an executive’s webcast or town hall, or if it’s a URL or phone number to use for requesting more information or taking the first step toward the ultimate desired behavior change.
Let’s say you’re communicating to managers a preferred way of conducting performance reviews. You could include two different URLs for accessing the online training module — one in the story you write for the employee newsletter and the other in the monthly toolkit you send to managers. Then just look at your web tracking statistics to see how many managers accessed the training through the generic URL already on the intranet versus the two unique URLs provided through your two communication methods.
A second way is to track the timing of behavior changes or other outcomes against the dates you launch different stages of your communication campaign. Seeing sharp improvements immediately after each communication builds a strong case for cause and effect for your contributions in comparison to any other non-communication factors that might be driving overall improvement over time, especially if those other factors had no connection to the dates of observed improvements.
3. Include pilot and control groups.
A third approach is to use pilot and control groups.
With this technique, you launch your campaign in only some locations (saving you money), making sure that the groups represent a similar mix of characteristics to those that are part of your control group. Then you look at the organization’s outcome measurements related to the purpose of your campaign.
You can take credit for any positive difference between the results in the pilot and control groups because all other multiple factors that might have affected the outcome would, on average, have been the same at all locations.
You can even do a retrospective analysis of “accidental” pilots you may have experienced when not all locations or managers used your full campaign in the past. Even though you had intended the campaign to be launched everywhere, actual experience created pilot and control groups unintentionally. The results are just waiting to be harvested.
Plan for measurable behavior change upfront.
None of these three approaches is either expensive or time-consuming. All they require is for us to plan for measurable behavior change upfront and build that into our campaigns before they launch.
Angela Sinickas, ABC, is president of Sinickas Communications Inc., an international communication consultancy specializing in helping corporations achieve business results through targeted diagnostics and practical solutions.