Engagement
WHERE IC PROFESSIONALS COME TO TALK

HOW DO YOU RUN AN EFFECTIVE EMPLOYEE FOCUS GROUP?

Lisa Baxter, director of The Experience Business, shares her tips getting the most out of focus groups.

13th July 2017

Where do you go for fresh ideas and perspectives to enhance business performance? Look no further than your own workforce. A wealth of collective experiences, alternative perspectives and creative talent resides within your own staff teams.

Lisa Baxter, director of The Experience Business, says: “Low cost and potentially high impact, employee focus groups bring huge value to the business. For example, they can provide an effective sounding board for new initiatives, explore coal-face perspectives on the nature of customer interactions, identify issues and opportunities to improve organisational efficiency, and tap into fresh thinking to fuel growth and innovation.”

Done well, focus groups can also strengthen employee engagement by generating a deeper sense of involvement in the business, galvanising teams around shared goals and dismantling silo-thinking. 

“Just like Marmite, people tend to love or hate focus groups,” says Lisa, “but with all these benefits on your own doorstep, what’s not to like?”


Lisa's top 5 tips

Be focused. Establish what you need to know, why and to what end. Use this to invite the most relevant people.  

Ensure participants know why their opinions are important. Make them feel valued throughout – from the invitation, to the refreshments to an authentic thank you at the end.

Keep people informed. Participants need to fully understand who will have access to the information and what actions might be taken as a result.  Make sure you also keep them up-to-date with the impacts of the research.

Maintain trust and openness. Frame the conversation by encouraging honesty and respect for everyone’s opinions. Emphasise that there are no right or wrong answers. Never judge what people are saying. Consider offering guarantees of anonymity if the subject is a sensitive one.

Facilitate the session. As moderator, encourage everyone to contribute to the discussion and to stay on topic. If someone dominates the conversation, open it up to the rest of the group. Clarify ‘woolly’ points and reflect your understanding back for verification.

 

Lisa Baxter is director of The Experience Business, a strategic insight consultancy specialising in research, creative facilitation and customer experience design. For details of training courses on how to run focus groups, go to theexperiencebusiness.co.uk and visit the Training and CPD > audience insight pages.

1 comment

  • Steve Bather 21st Sep 2017

    Interesting article, thanks Lisa. I would love to know if you have tried collaborative technology in support of focus groups? The technology has been around for a couple of decades now and the latest versions are simple and intuitive to use, particularly in small groups. Of course I have a vested interest here (MeetingSphere produce collaborative software tools). Having working with many organisations to ensure everyone in the group gets open and transparent access to say what they really think (MeetingSphere provides for anonymous input) and the ability to influence and participate in the convergence process to ensure the really important stuff rises to the surface is a truly innovative way to work. We also work in the public sector with organisations like Local Authority Youth Mental Health Teams where engaging young people with mental health issues is about as hard as it gets, however, using the Tools they council get to the important stuff quickly and radically develop their services to meet the surfaced needs quickly. Would love to discuss this approach more. Please be in touch ([email protected])

Leave a comment

To leave a comment on this article, please complete the form below. Your comment will be posted once verified by our editorial team.

If you are not an IoIC member and would like to join to receive Voice and other membership benefits, visit our Membership page.

Room Booking

Thanks for staying with us! Please fill out the form below and our staff will be in contact with your shortly. The see all of our room options please visit the link below.
See All Rooms