Survey FAQs

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General

Do you have a certification process?

Denison does not have a certification process, but attending one of our workshops or eWorkshops is a great way to learn more about the Denison Model, our Solutions, and our Surveys. Workshops are a great way to get first-hand experience with the tools, work through some case studies and meet other clients and consultants who are using our surveys.  We also have many resources available including online guides, articles, PowerPoint presentations, and webinars to help you get up to speed quickly. Contact us today to get started!

How do we get started?

Whether you are looking to learn more about our offerings, find a suitable consultant, register for a workshop or set up a Denison Organizational Culture Survey or Leadership Development Survey, the best way to get started is to contact a Denison Client Manager.  Your Client Manager serves as your main point of contact throughout your culture or leadership initiative. They can walk you through your survey set-up from design to reports, get you in touch with the right consulting services to meet your needs, or put you in contact with our research department to address your research concerns. Contact our office today to learn more about the Denison Model, our Solutions, and our Surveys.

Organizational Culture Survey

After completing a project, should we repeat the process again? If so, how often?

Denison recommends completing a full survey every year to 18 months. Culture is not static in organizations and it is important to measure, track and actively take steps to create a healthy culture in your organization. A best practice in this area is to tie culture development into your annual planning cycle so that it is integrated into your annual goal and objective setting for each year. The Denison Organizational Culture Change Monitor is also available between full surveys to help organizations gauge the effectiveness of their improvement initiatives and course-correct if needed at shorter intervals. The Change Monitor is typically implemented at 60-90 day intervals and measures up to three specific indexes of the Denison Model.

Can we be compared to a norm that consists only of organizations from our own country?

Research conducted by Denison Consulting has indicated that there is little difference between regions of the world with respect to the Denison Model, which eliminates the need for country- or region-specific norms.  For more information about this, please see the article Corporate Culture and Organizational Effectiveness: Is There a Similar Pattern Around the World?

Can we be compared to an industry norm as opposed to your standard benchmark?

Denison does not have industry specific norms for several reasons. First, if the purpose is assessment and determining relative strengths and weaknesses to target for improvement, the standard benchmarks are the best to use. The reason is that an organization should compare itself to global best practices. Otherwise the organization runs the risk replicating the shortcomings of their particular industry.
 

Second, our research shows that there is little difference between industries with respect to the presence of the 4 traits and 12 indices that make up the Denison model. Also, our global database (drawn from thousands of organizations) is more precise than a smaller database containing only companies from a specific industry. It is most important to focus on the results and patterns in the data as opposed to the makeup of the norms.

Can we brand the survey with our organization's own brand image?

We can customize the Denison Organizational Culture Survey with your organization's logo and welcome message on the opening page of the survey. Additional branding options are available and custom programming fees apply. Contact your Denison Client Manager to discuss customization and branding options.

Can we change the standard 60 questions on the Denison Organizational Culture Survey?

Changing the text of the standard 60 questions will affect how people respond to the items.  Because we offer the benefit of normative data and report percentile scores, changing the question text is not recommended as it will result in inaccurate scores for the affected items. We can, however, make changes to reflect your organization's use of terms or naming conventions, such as changing the word “employee” to “team member.” Talk with your Denison Client Manager about the options for customizing the standard Denison Organizational Culture Survey questions.

Can we use unique links or user IDs and passwords to track individuals?

We have the capability to provide each individual with unique links for their Denison Organizational Culture Survey.  This option is available, but is recommended only for special situations.  Before deciding to use unique identifiers, it is important to note that individuals are often concerned with confidentiality and when they see that they have received a unique link, they are less likely to trust the anonymity of the survey.  Because of this, response rates are inevitably lower with this method.  There is also the possibility that the data collected may reflect an inaccurate (usually inflated) picture of your organizational culture because people may feel that their answers are being tracked. Talk with your Denison Client Manager to learn about the options available and determine the most effective solution for your organization.

Can you tell me the names of those who have not completed the survey yet?

Given the confidential nature of our surveys, we cannot provide specific names of those who have or have not completed the survey. If the survey was set up with unique links, we can send reminder emails to just those people who have not yet completed the survey. If our standard survey link was used, i.e. one link for everyone in the organization, we suggest sending a reminder letter to the group as a whole saying thank you to those who have already completed the survey and reminding those who still need to complete the survey. Work with your Denison Client Manager to learn about some best practices for increasing response rates.

How are your projects priced?

For pricing information and project options, contact us for details. Contact Us

How do we prevent participants from taking the survey more than once?

In practice, we have found it is extremely rare for individuals to deliberately take the time to fill out the survey more than once. Because the standard Denison Organizational Culture Survey (DOCS) is done anonymously, there is no absolute way to prevent someone from taking the survey more than once. There are several safeguards, however, that we can use to detect and deter such behavior. The use of browser cookies, monitoring response counts by categories, and monitoring survey data are some examples. We have methods of analyzing the survey data to determine the likelihood that a set of responses came from the same person or if there was any deliberate attempt to skew the results. If there is a need to absolutely guarantee that there is only one response per person, Denison can generate unique links for each rater. This option comes with its own set of pros and cons however and you should thoroughly discuss the options available with your Denison Client Manager before deciding on the appropriate solution.

How does the Denison Organizational Culture Survey differ from the Gallup Q12?

The Gallup Q12 is a tool that gives a detailed measure of employee engagement at an individual level. It does not, however, measure the organizational behaviors in Mission, Adaptability, Involvement and Consistency. While employee engagement is very important to organizations it is also important to ask "What are our employees engaged in?" Through our research and experience, we have found that in effective organizations, employees are engaged in their Mission (Mission), their marketplace or external environment (Adaptability) and in the systems and processes that help them get work done (Consistency).

How often do you update your benchmark database?

The Denison Organizational Culture Survey Normative Database is reviewed and updated biennially. The current database has been drawn from over thousands of organizations and has remained relatively stable over time. We have found little difference between industries or between geographic regions. Our Global benchmark is highly stable and accurate comparing your organizations with a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, professional services, financial services, health care, educational institutions, government and not-for-profit organizations.

Is the Denison Organizational Culture Survey equally as effective when used in conjunction with the Denison Leadership Development Survey?

The Denison Organizational Culture Survey and Leadership Development Survey are powerful assessments when used alone or together. Because they share a common model and business language, it is often very easy for organizations to translate the skills and behaviors from the Culture Survey to the Leadership Survey, and vice versa. Many organizations use both in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their organization, function or business unit, and then also understand the leadership behaviors and practices that support those strengths and weaknesses. Leaders can better understand where their own strengths and weaknesses match the organization and they can also quickly and easily determine what skills they need to develop to support the organization's goals.

Is the survey available in languages other than English?

The Denison Organization Culture Survey has been translated and localized into 44 of the world's major languages. Contact your Denison Client Manager for a current list. Languages not listed are available for an additional fee.

We typically implement an annual employee satisfaction survey. Should we replace it with the Denison Organizational Culture Survey?

Employee satisfaction surveys are very important business tools in many organizations. Many times, they measure things like satisfaction with wages or benefits, or things at an individual employee level. The Denison Organizational Culture Survey differs from employee satisfaction surveys in that it is meant to give you a picture of your organization's effectiveness in four main areas of organizational performance: Mission, Adaptability, Consistency, and Involvement. Because both types of information are important to organizations, we recommend that you combine some elements of your current employee satisfaction survey with the Organizational Culture Survey, creating a single, dual-purpose survey with a consistent look and feel. Additional questions can be added to the Denison survey, allowing employees to fill out one assessment. Our Research services can help you either map your existing employee satisfaction survey or design questions to collect the information you are looking for. For more information, contact your Denison Client Manager.

What are benchmarks, norms and percentiles and why does Denison use them?

Denison compares your organization's data on the Denison Organizational Culture Survey with a database drawn from thousands of organizations and provides the results in the form of a percentile score. This percentile score indicates how well your organization scored in comparison to the other organizations in the normative database. For example, if your organization had a score of 94 in the area of Customer Focus, this means that it scored higher than 94% of all the other organizations in the database. Contact your Denison Client Manager for more information on the current normative database.

The use of normative data is a key advantage to using the Denison Surveys. The use of normative data is much more meaningful than the use of raw numbers, frequencies, means, or percentages. The benefits include:

  • Assessing the favorability of scores - Using normative data enables you to determine the favorability of your organization's scores by comparing them with an objective, external standard of performance, rather than reaching a subjective conclusion about the value of the mean compared to the survey scale. For example, when a mean score of 3.88 corresponds to the 95th percentile, the score indicates high performance. However, when a mean score of 3.88 corresponds to the 21st percentile, this indicates relatively low performance. Percentiles help you answer the question "Is that good?"
  • Comparing and contrasting between items - For two different survey items, it is possible that the one with the higher mean may be less favorable than the one with the lower mean. The use of norms allows us to use the 50th percentile as the 'average' score and thus clarifies which of the two scores is most favorable. This makes it easier for users to accurately assess strengths and weaknesses.
  • Correcting for skewness of data - Data on a five-point scale is often skewed toward the upper-end of the scale (i.e. more people give an answer of 4 or 5 than 1 or 2), making it difficult to interpret a mean score. By using normative data, this problem is eliminated.

What are the IT requirements for taking the Denison Surveys online?

You can access the survey IT requirements at:
http://www.denisonsurvey.com/SurveyITRequirements.htm

What do I do once I have my results?

There are many different approaches to take based on your organization's results. We have many resources available to help you start turning your diagnosis into action, including: workshops, case studies and articles, e-Resources, and all levels of consulting support through our Global Consulting Network. Working with your Denison Client Manager and discussing your needs and goals throughout the survey process will help them get you the support you need. Your Client Manager can help put you in touch with the appropriate resources.

What is the time frame for a typical project?

The planning phase is one of the most important parts of the survey process. Be sure to b e clear about your goals and objectives for your survey project and decide what information you are seeking from the survey. For typical set-ups, allow Denison two to five business days to work with you to set up your survey website. Surveys are typically open for two weeks although this can vary depending on the number of participants and the timing of the projects. Once the survey is closed, reports can be generated within two to five business days. We recommend that you work with your Denison Client Manager to define your reports up front to speed the reporting process. Some factors that may require additional set up and planning time include: multiple languages, extensive custom questions or extensive customizations to the survey.

What measures does Denison take to protect confidentiality?

The standard set up of the Denison Organizational Culture Survey is confidential and does not ask any information about the respondent's identity. Therefore, we have no way of associating an individual with their responses. In addition, responses are reported only in aggregate form. Denison will not release any group of survey results where there are fewer than 3 respondents in the group to make certain that specific individuals cannot be identified.

What should I consider when conducting a sample vs. a census?

Everyone who will be expected to take action on the survey results should be given a chance to provide input. Excluding certain people or groups may send a negative message about their value and could set the expectation that they will not have to be involved in the change process. Include people from all levels in the organization, if possible. The more perspectives that are captured in the data, the more accurate and useful it will be.

Inviting the entire population of the organization to take the survey has additional benefits beyond simply getting data. Some of these benefits include:

  • Getting everyone involved in the project which will likely lead to increased buy-in during the change process
  • Sending the message that all opinions are valued in the organization
  • Avoiding concerns about the reliability and accuracy of the data that are often used as excuses to avoid accountability for change initiatives 


In some cases, usually due to budget constraints, it makes sense to conduct a sample of the population as opposed to surveying the organization in its entirety. Your Denison Client Manager and our Research Department can work with you to determine the appropriate sampling strategy to meet your goals in your survey project. Contact your Denison Client Manager to learn more.

What will I receive upon completion of the survey?

The standard Denison Organizational Culture Survey report includes the Circumplex (circular profile), the Line Item report (individual scores on each of the 60 questions) and the High-Low chart (a summary of the 5 highest and 5 lowest scoring items on the survey. There are many additional types of reports available including Comparison Reports, Verbatim Reports, and Custom Question Summaries. Work with your Denison Client Manager to determine the segments and reports required for your project.

Leadership Development Survey

As a leader, how many people can I ask to rate me?

Typically, leaders will choose 10-12 people to rate them (raters). Use the following guidelines to select raters:

  • 1 - 2 Boss(es) or Supervisor(s) - People who you report to or who supervise you
  • 3 - 5 Peers - People you work with who are at approximately your same level (3 completed surveys are minimum for an individual report)
  • 3 - 5 Direct Reports or Subordinates - People who report to you (3 completed surveys are minimum for an individual report)

You can also invite people in the 'Other' category; this category could be people you work with regularly who don't easily fit into the above categories.

As a leader, what should I consider when choosing people to rate me?

When embarking on a 360 development survey, it is important to choose your raters carefully. Specifically, it is important that you believe that your raters are credible so that you can take action on the feedback. Before you finalize your list of raters, consider completing the self-survey to familiarize yourself with the items. This may help you select the raters who can provide the best input.

  • Choose individuals who are knowledgeable about you and your current performance
  • Ask individuals who represent diversity in their experiences and opinions of you
  • Choose people whom you trust will provide fair and accurate judgments, who will be candid, open-minded and able to give constructive feedback.

Remember to thank the individuals you ask to complete the survey as well. Seeking feedback from others, Peers and Direct Reports especially, can be a relationship-building experience in itself.

Can we brand the survey with our organization’s own brand image?

Your company’s logo can appear in the 3Click system.  Additional branding may require custom programming fees and will be subject to review and approval by Denison.

Can we change the standard questions on the Denison Leadership Development Survey?

Changing the text of the standard Denison Leadership Development Survey questions will affect how people respond to the items.  Because we offer the benefit of normative data and report percentile scores, changing the question text is not recommended as it will result in inaccurate scores for the affected items. Simple changes that reflect the language of your business, for example changing "customer" to "client" can be done. Discuss any customization requests with your Denison Client Manager or a member of our Research department.

Can you tell me who has not yet completed the survey?

Given the confidential nature of our surveys, we cannot provide specific names of who has or has not completed the survey. We can, however, send out targeted email reminders to those individuals who have not yet completed the survey.

Do you have the survey in any languages other than English?

The survey is currently available in over 10 major world languages.  Languages not listed are available for an additional fee. Talk with your Denison Client Manager about the language capabilities of the Denison Leadership Development Survey.

How do the Denison Organizational Culture Survey and the Denison Leadership Development Survey relate to each other?

The Denison Model is one of the only models that aligns leadership behavior with a high performing culture that improves the bottom line. The Denison model provides a common platform for the culture survey and leadership surveys.

Our leadership surveys measure an individual's leadership skills and practices as they relate to these key traits. This provides a way to link leadership development and organizational culture to tangible bottom-line performance measures such as profitability, quality, innovation, market share, sales growth, and employee satisfaction.

Having a common platform ensures that the culture and leadership initiatives within a company are:

  • based on the same concepts
  • using the same terminology
  • working toward the same goals
  • using reports that provide related information

This avoids the disconnect that often occurs between unrelated initiatives.

How do we prevent people from taking the survey more than once?

Leadership surveys utilize unique links for both participants (leaders) and their raters. This prevents the survey from being taken more than one time.

How much do the surveys cost?

Talk with your Denison Client Manager about your specific project needs.

Is the Leadership Survey only applicable to executives, or can lower level management positions benefit from it as well?

The Denison Leadership Development Survey is applicable to all leaders. Our normative database is comprised of leaders from a diverse array of industries, management levels, functional areas and tenures. It has been applied to senior level management programs as well as emerging leader programs. We also have a 270 version of the survey for Individual Contributors. This survey is designed for the leader in the organization who may not have Direct Reports.

What are benchmarks/norms/percentiles and why does Denison use them?

The current Denison Leadership Development Survey (DLDS) normative database provides leaders with information about how they scored on the DLDS relative to nearly 14,000 leaders from a wide variety of industries, job functions, management levels and tenures. We have found the database to be very stable across years. Contact your Denison Client Manager for more information on Normative Data and Percentiles.

The use of normative data is a key advantage to using the Denison surveys. The use of normative data is much more meaningful than the use of raw numbers, frequencies, means, or percentages. The benefits include:

  • Assessing favorability of scores - Using normative data enables you to determine the favorability of your organization’s scores by comparing them with an objective, external standard of performance, rather than reaching a subjective conclusion about the value of the mean compared to the survey scale.  For example, when a mean score of 3.88 corresponds to the 95th percentile, the score indicates high performance. However, when a mean score of 3.88 corresponds to the 21st percentile, this indicates relatively low performance.
  • Comparing and contrasting between items - For two different survey items, it is possible that the one with the higher mean may be less favorable than the one with the lower mean.  The use of norms allows us to use the 50th percentile as the “average” score and thus clarifies which of the two scores is most favorable. This makes is easier for users to accurately assess strengths and weaknesses.
  • Correcting for skewness of data - Data on a five-point scale is often skewed toward the upper-end of the scale (e.g., more people give an answer of 5 or 4 than a 1 or 2), making it difficult to interpret a mean score.  By using normative data, this problem is eliminated.

What is the 3Click System and how does the process work?

The entire Denison Leadership Development Survey and 3Click process are done online (paper surveys are also available). The leader will receive an email invitation with instructions and a link to their personal 3Click page. This process is completely secure and confidential. From the 3Click link, the leader can:

  1. Define and Edit their Raters - Leaders should enter the names, email addresses and relationships of the people they want to invite to take the survey. Once all of the raters have been added, the leader can invite the 'raters' who will receive individual invitations with personalized links asking for their input.
  2. Take the Self-Survey - Leaders can take their self-survey at any point in the process. It is often helpful to do this first so that they understand the nature of the questions being asked. This will help them determine the best raters to invite.
  3. Check Survey Counts - At any point in the process, leaders can check to see how many raters in each category have completed the survey.

At designated points before the survey deadline, the 3Click system will also send out reminders to all those who have not completed the survey. Once the survey has closed, your Denison Client Manager will create your personalized reports. Discuss report delivery and support options with your Client Manager early in the project to ensure a successful process.

What is the timeframe for a typical project?

Please allow Denison two to five business days to work with you to set up the survey websites in our secure, proprietary 3Click system.  The typical time that is given to participants to fill out the survey ranges from one to three weeks, depending on the number of participants and the timing of the project.  Once the survey deadline is reached, please allow Denison two to five business days to produce your reports.Work with your Denison Client Manager to determine the best option for producing and distributing the reports. Providing the right support and coaching is often a vital and overlooked step in the 360 process. Talk with your Denison Client Manager to decide on the best solution for providing support to survey participants.

What measures does Denison take to protect the confidentiality of respondents?

We understand how important confidentiality is in the leadership development process. The information put into our secure, proprietary 3Click system is confidential and only used by Denison Consulting to administer the Leadership 360 process. We provide reports in aggregate form for Peer, Direct Report, and Other rater groups and no identifying information is available. The Boss rater groups are displayed and attributed separately.

What will I receive upon completion of the survey?

The standard Denison Leadership Development report includes the Circumplex  reports (Circular profile), the Line Item data (individual scores on each of the Denison questions), a Gap report outlining strengths, weaknesses, under and over-estimated capabilities, a Line Item report (a summary of the 10 highest and lowest scoring items according the 'Combined Other' category) and a Comments Report.  At minimum, you will receive a report that compares your self ratings to the 'Combined Other' group of Boss, Peers, Direct Reports and Others. To get individual breakouts of the Peer, Direct Report and Other categories, there must be a minimum of 3 completed surveys in that category. Boss/Supervisor scores, however, are displayed and distributed separately.

What's the difference between the Denison Leadership Development Survey and the version for Individual Contributors?

The Individual Contributors version of the Denison Leadership Development Survey is designed for Individual Contributors in the organization in leadership roles. This version uses the same Leadership model and largely the same questions but is designed for someone who does not have Direct Reports. Talk with your Denison Client Manager to set up a demo of the Individual Contributor version of the Denison Leadership Development Survey.

What’s different about the Denison Leadership Development Survey?

The Denison Leadership Development 360 provides leaders and managers with 360 degree feedback on specific management practices that can impact bottom-line organizational performance. It is the result of a series of studies conducted at the University of Michigan Business School that have examined the relationship between leadership, organizational culture, and organizational effectiveness.

The Denison Leadership Development Survey is intended to equip individual managers with a tool that provides a clear and comprehensive look at twelve leadership traits and skills that influence organizational performance. It is a powerful research tool for linking the profiles of participating individual managers to their organization and to other studies.