You can use questionnaires – however, they are not appreciative

by Prof. Dr. Armin Trost

Garth is 32 years old. He is starting to think about getting married, but unfortunately, he lacks a suitable woman. This is particularly tragic because he has had relationships with at least 10 women over the past 15 years. Some lasted longer, some not so long. With this last girlfriend, he finally had an idea. When she suddenly ended the relationship, he handed her a questionnaire. “Susan, it is of course a pity that you want to leave me. Unfortunately, you are not the first one to leave me. Therefore, I would like to ask you to complete this questionnaire carefully, so that I can systematically learn what I need to do differently in the future.” The questionnaire was created professionally. It contains questions such as, “what are the three most important reasons why you are leaving me? Do you have a new boyfriend? If so, what does he have, that I don’t have (tick the three main categories)? Would you nevertheless recommend to a friend to enter a relationship with me?”

With that, the matter was finally settled. Susan’s reaction followed immediately, “this fucking questionnaire is another reason why I am leaving you. You simply don’t even care about me.”

Companies that provide a written exit questionnaire to their voluntarily leaving employees have probably never been interested in their employees. Companies that only carry out written employee surveys to understand their employees’ states of mind are not really interested in their employees. Companies that ask customers to submit feedback only with questionnaires are not interested in their customers (even if an employee of a hotline reads the questionnaire personally).

If you are really interested in the opinions and views of people, talk to them. It is as simple as that and most readers of this article knew that already before reading it. Why is it then that so many companies rely on these widespread, unwieldy instruments? We should seriously think about that.