Why M&A Plays

Setting Up Your Integration Pulse Survey

Learn how to improve throughout the integration process. Use this Survey Template to find out if you need to make changes. Measure what matters.

About the play

Taking a lesson from John Doerr’s book Measure What Matters, having objectives defined that touch all teams involved in its success is quite the effort yet an important step to driving the company towards its destined path.

We certainly can say the same for thinking about what goes into an Integration Pulse Survey. Too many surveys are cookie cutter questions of each other.

An Integration Pulse Survey has a different purpose yet a common mission. The mission is to measure. Yet the purpose is to understand what is going well and what needs to improve during this Integration.

Notice that this is stated during this integration. Running a pulse survey frequently is the intention. And having the survey’s be short yet progressive will drive better participation.

Let’s take a look below at how best to put this modus operandi into practice.



Head of Integrations, Employee Engagement Team, Professional Question Writer (optional)




Either a word processor spreadsheet to draft your questions and a pre-selected survey automation application that will house the questions.


Planning: 30 minutes | Design: 75 minutes

Running the Play:


Set the Frequency

Take your 30 minutes of planning to internalize how often you feel an Integration survey will be valuable to yourself and your Leadership.

If you have a rich history of acquisitions, then a matrix like in Table 1 below can be helpful to see where your current Integration falls. There is not a scientific method to determining the right number of Integration surveys. Mostly, the decision rests on your culture.

The most common pitfall I see are IMO’s who fail to plan and execute an actual pulse survey. Excuses for not doing it vary from “not having enough time” to “it wasn’t a priority.

Both excuses are unacceptable since the opportunity cost of not planning ahead or escalating the importance is far greater than the cost of the acquisition itself. Additionally, the timing of the survey is something you will never get back. 

Sample Matrix for Criterion on How Many Surveys to Run
Sample Matrix for Criterion on How Many Surveys to Run


Communicating about the survey can be done passively or assertively.

The passive approach is to put the survey as a slide in your kick-off deck then speak to it.

More assertively is to write a proactive memo about the importance of the survey, their participation, and the resulting Leadership actions.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each which are listed below. In either choice of communication, their dependency rests on your culture and how the teams will receive it.

passive vs. assertive communication chart
Passive vs. Assertive Communication Chart


Think Holistically About Your Questions

I hate to start this section with bad news but it’s better to do it now.

Your first efforts to write your survey questions will fail. The pitfall is quite simple – you will overthink it.

All too often, IMO’s forget what they did in Step 1 which was to define the frequency. Having more than one survey on your calendar means that the first survey does not have to be all encompassing.

As a matter of fact, it is better for the surveyants that it isn’t. Remember that you want the pulse surveys to be short yet progressive. Let me explain.

Keeping the surveys short

By the time you get to the first survey, your Integration program is months, if not weeks, into the effort. This means lots of heavy work underway and far less patience for yet another management overhead task.

Am I right?

So what you want to do is make the survey less of a burden. Typically keeping the survey between five and ten questions is a good amount.

Also, if you can keep to the 70/30 rule then that’s good too – 70% of the questions are multiple choice, and 30% are open ended. Having a good portion of multiple choice gives the surveyant the feeling of efficiency.

Yet the open ended questions allows you to capture the stories and color commentary as well.

Keeping the surveys progressive

For rounds two and three of the survey, again keep to the motive of short surveys.

However, you can now leverage some of your learnings from survey 1 as context for your questions. For example, the table below shows you how the progression of the same questions over time.

Survey vs. Question Comparison
Survey vs. Question Comparison


Put Pen to Paper

As for the survey questions themselves, remember to keep the questions specific to the Integration with a grounding on these common areas:

  • Communication
  • Inclusion & Belonging
  • Career
  • Leadership confidence
  • Program management
  • Team dynamics
  • Systems access
  • On-boarding

It is not necessary to touch on all these topics for your survey. It is important, however, to match these topics to what you defined as your objective to measure.

There will be times when you want to add more questions. During the draft stage, it is OK to have as many questions as you can write. At least you can use these questions as the beginning of a question repository.

However, resist the urge to actually implement all the questions. Take a step back to pick the best questions that will help you measure the Integration. Remember, your motives are not to overburden your surveyants. It is more important that they finish the survey.



The final step is to put your questions into a system that can capture the results. Even better would be a tool that can help with analytics.

There are several good tools out there like:

  • Survey Monkey
  • Qualtrics
  • Lime Survey

Before saving the survey, make sure to allow the entries to be anonymous. This may sound counterintuitive to having shorter questions but the end justifies the means.

Getting surveyants to complete the survey is very important. The anonymity does allow them to provided candid feedback. And that is what you are looking for ultimately.

The point of the pulse survey is to be iterative in your learning and adjustments. This is a fundamental to the agile methodology so apply it to the results of the survey.


Bonus: Sample questions

The following questions are samples for the initial pulse survey.

Your second and future rounds of surveys will rely a lot on whether you continue tracking against the same measures or whether the Integration has pivoted that then requires a new set of measures.

But for the near term, here are samples for your first round:

initial pulse survey sample questions
Initial Pulse Survey Sample Questions