An organizational assessment is a systemic approach for consultants to discover how well their client organizations are performing and where they could improve in order to perform better. They are invaluable to organizations in a number of ways. Not only can they identify problem areas, but they can serve as the basis for any number of change management initiatives. Organizational diversity, operational performance, leadership effectiveness, employee retention efforts, and digital transformation are just a few of these. Conducting organizational assessments allows internal and external consultants to ground their guidance in data, introduce new insight to their client, and identify areas that will have the most impact in their engagement.
The pattern for conducting organizational assessments is generally consistent. The consultant or internal team conducts discovery, analyzes the data, and produces key recommendations for performance improvement.
Best practices for organizational assessment largely focus on the process of the assessment. The process starts with research into the company itself – such as demographics and data from any previous assessments. Data collection includes conducting organization-wide surveys and interviewing key personnel in order to get both the big picture and the details. Analysis involves using various frameworks or tools for sorting the data and identifying patterns in order to draw conclusions and produce recommendations. More transformative HR groups and consultants are digitally engaging their workforces and those of their clients.
But recently, many consultants and internal consulting teams have discovered the numerous benefits that employee engagement can offer to nearly every initiative an organization launches, and organizational assessments are no exception. In fact, one could argue that engagement is key to the organizational assessment process. As tools and methods are being digitized, it is all too easy for consultants to lose sight of the effect the assessment has on the organization’s workforce. Without engagement, the amount of useful information gleaned from employees will be limited. What consultants should be focusing on today in order to create lasting results is an assessment that engages the organization. They must ensure that participants are actively involved at every step and that the organization embraces whatever change is coming. Studies show that lasting change requires engagement, assessments will not be truly effective without it.v
The good news is there is an easy way to measure engagement during an organizational assessment without sacrificing your original objective or comprising on the number of questions you are asking.
Volunteerism, or the act of employees virtually raising their hands to offer solutions, serves as a measure of overall engagement. First, it can bring insider-driven solutions to light. Second, it can show an organization how invested its employees are in a positive outcome for the assessment. In order to invite volunteerism, employees first need to understand the importance of the assessment; why the company is conducting it, the process that will occur, and the expected results. The process of involving the employees should also be effortless enough that employees will want to participate. A time-consuming, mind-numbing survey is unlikely to result in a high participation rate. Finally, an organizational assessment should simply ask for volunteers. There is no need to make it difficult, but you do need to make sure you are measuring that response.
Measuring the communication needs of an organization can determine employee engagement trouble spots. Inadequate communication can lead to huge costs for an organization, so pinpointing the areas that need better communication is essential. The easiest way to identify the need for better communication is to ask about it directly in each topic addressed. Those who actively seek it can point straight to where they see the need for it. Business units or specific locations where employees are not seeking better communication can stand as examples of transparent leadership and good information flow. Alternatively, by segmenting requests, consultants can quickly pinpoint communication needs that will have the most impact.
Lack of training is another area that can detract from employee engagement both in terms of inefficiency and employee turnover. Rather than identifying areas in need of training simply by spotting inefficiencies, the best way to determine where training is needed and what type of training would be effective is to ask the ones who will be undergoing training, the employees themselves. Devoting a portion of the assessment to training needs is important; employees can comment on past training initiatives and identify what types of training are effective. Additionally, assessments should give employees a way to indicate directly whether they need training in every area of the business.
Organizational assessments are useful to organizations in a number of ways, but the traditional, process-oriented way of conducting them is not sufficient to affect lasting change. By measuring the engagement of an organization’s workforce via volunteerism, communication, and training – like the 9Lenses platform allows – those conducting organizational assessments can better ensure participation and insight that will actually make a difference.