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Identifying people needs


There are many ways to find out peoples needs some ideas are referred to here.

Job watching

Watching people doing their jobs will give you an idea of their likes and dislikes.
Ask them about the details of the tasks and what they prefer and why.

Discussion groups

Why not set up a small group to consider what could make the work place better for higher performance.

Skills and talents

By getting to know people better you may be able to uncover special skills which may be a bonus in the work place.


Can be very useful in getting opinion across a wide area quickly. The data can be added to a spreadsheet and trends can be assessed.

Why did they leave?

People leave companies and go elsewhere all the time.
However, it’s quite unusual to really ask why?
There are the normal reasons of promotion, relocation, better benefits etc but often the real underlying reasons are not raised. It’s good to try to get a frank opinion from leavers on problem areas and perhaps their views on how change could be implemented. Always thank people for their input in these sessions and never bear any malice for their departure.

A person going to another organisation can become a valuable contact which will help with your own motivation.

Ask direct questions

If you want to know what makes people tick take the trouble to ask them.
This is probably best done in a one to one informal chat.
Groups will tend to follow a lead and you may not get honest opinion.

What is an ideal environment in which to work?
What are the worst aspects?

Data assessment

What ever you do to get information you must collate it, assess it and then act on it.
Make sure when you start to collect the information that you reassure people that the information will not be used against them.
This is extremely important.
It is also very important that you action some suggestions. You must show that the feedback you have accumulated has not been in vain.

Obviously, you won’t be able to implement a lot of actions all in one go but you should make sure everyone is aware of the survey / data collecting summary. Without this future exercises in this area will lower motivation rather than increase it.

It is quite likely that you would want to repeat such exercises in the future and you need to maintain honesty.
If not, when you get positive comments you won’t be sure they are genuine.

The sort of information that you collate may take time but could help improve overall time management (see The Complete Time Management package).