Some managers gauge the health and strength of the company by the number of employees coming to the company picnic… bonus points if they stay for the potato sack race. How about the lunchroom opportunity for improvement in box? Does it provide any information, or has it become a substitute garbage can? First lesson in management: don’t assume. Second lesson in management: seek to understand.
What starts as a simple question about how well the organization functions turns very quickly into a mountain looking strikingly like the Himalayas. It is such a simple answer, right? We (managers) have financial information to report that the company is in good shape… We have quality data that reflects the value and compliance of our product to its requirements… We have marketing data to tell us what our customers like, want, and do. But what about our company? Our home base… the place we spend at least 40 hours a week physically located and even more hours worrying about? What are we doing to measure the health and status of it?
The problem is most small and mid-sized companies don’t have the bench depth or budget to add yet another task to the already LEAN management team. But it is a critical mistake not to take stock in things like employee culture, satisfaction and concerns.
So, what can we do?
There are many methods to assess the status and health of the company. The Baldridge Framework provides a set of core value assessments that identify gaps in your understanding of your organization and compare your organization with others. McKinsey Group also has developed an organizational capacity assessment which also provides insight into the organization’s current situation. But just like financial, quality, and marketing metrics, someone must be directed to act.
The first step is to start with a plan that has the end in mind. Have the leadership team plan a gathering to really look at the organization as it operates. Ask yourselves some pertinent questions:
- Are you able to attract and retain the right people?
- Are your employees engaged and do they work collaboratively, as a team?
- Is communication a two-way street?
- Do associates know their responsibilities and how they contribute to company goals?
- Is your organization ready to make the necessary changes to reach your vision?
During the meeting, identify what metrics you currently use to gauge these areas. How do you react to them? Develop an action plan. Communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly about the situation and then over communicate the action plan to both managers and employees outlining the ways the management team will improve the situation. Commit to action. Finally, develop and implement a long-term program that will continually pulse the organization to ensure you remain on track. Investment in a continual process of organizational review and development will ensure you know you are in a good spot based upon real data from your employees and processes.
By Anna Yarashus, Organizational Development Practice Manager, GENEDGE