Companies are notoriously bad at doing their own research. Even if they truly understand how to design a survey instrument, conduct the data collections, perform the mathematical analysis and compile the findings, they still have to account for numerous pitfalls along the way that will make the data inaccurate and the conclusions misleading.
Let’s say your company president decides the company is going to have a town hall-style meeting, because he wants to know why sales numbers have been dropping over the last three quarters. You know exactly why the sales team hasn’t been performing, and it has directly to do with the president’s decision to put a certain consultant in a pivotal position who really doesn’t understand the business process and has been causing no end of trouble. But the president is putting all his eggs in this consultant’s basket and believes she is going to revolutionize the company.
So what do you do? Should you be honest and tell him just what the problem is? Or are you more concerned with keeping the peace so you can keep your job? Just how difficult is it to be honest?
This difficulty is part of why companies shouldn’t do their own market research. There’s the intimidation factor at being honest with people you know. It’s one thing if a complete stranger is asking for your employees’ critiques. Then they get to be anonymous and protect themselves. But it’s quite another when their boss, or boss’ boss, or even a colleague is asking directly.
The emotional factor rises high here…employees can be scared away from brutal but vital honesty because of the fear of stepping on the wrong toes or being pegged a troublemaker. This is where a neutral third-party anonymous questioner is beneficial. They can protect and account for that emotional, fearful reaction, and you can be sure that you are getting unadulterated input.
The other side of that situation is the “friendship factor.” If clients and vendors are the sources of information, especially when they’re being asked by members of the company, there’s really no motivation to say anything that might rock the boat. If there is a problem that’s somewhat manageable, maybe they don’t want to get anyone in trouble or hurt a contact’s feelings because of their personal/professional relationships.
Again, in this case, a professional market research team can help the company get the whole truth and work around the fear factors that exist. This lets management get the crucial information they really need to make the best decisions.
Including getting rid of the incompetent consultant.