How-Tos, Research/Surveys

How-to: Getting real change with an employee survey

survey as a tool

How can you make employee surveys a real tool for change, at every level? There’s been a lot of practical research and trial-and-error; and we can conclude that there are things you can do which definitely work.


For many consultant, summarizing the data and providing recommendations is standard operating procedure, but it often leads to little action. That makes sense: most employees only get a little (if any) feedback, and the top managers are given a set of recommendations they can safely ignore or forget about.… Read the rest


Increasing executive and supervisor credibility through visibility and communication

visibility and credibility

Credibility of executives and supervisors was linked to visibility in our research.

We believe that, if a manager keeps their employees informed of the decisions and changes they’re considering (and their thought processes along the way), the employees can think along with the manager, or at least understand their rationale. Any decisions will not seem to contradict common sense or the manager’s previous stance.… Read the rest

How-Tos, Research/Surveys

Employee surveys – a tool for change


Surveys can be used as a change tool in several ways —above and beyond the usual goal of gathering information.

First, simply having the survey tells people that change is coming, and that something will happen. That is a key part of the change process, known as “unfreezing,”which is needed for people to consider doing things differently.

One other subtle way that surveys affect change is by telling people what is considered most important.… Read the rest

How-Tos, Research/Surveys

Tips for building a valid survey


First, some warnings for employee surveys in particular:

  • Simply having the survey tells people that change is coming, and that something will happen. (Therefore, you must make sure something does happen and that people can see it happening).
  • Surveys subtly affect change is by telling people what is considered most important; “you get what you measure.” That’s one more reason to choose your questions carefully.
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Articles, How-Tos, Quality

Process mapping: a step by step guide

workflow or process mapping

Process (work-flow) mapping lowers errors, increases effectiveness, and enhances communication.  Process mapping sessions may result in sudden revelations such as:

  • “I didn’t know you did it that way, we do it this way!”
  • “But why don’t we do it that way instead?”
  • “No wonder it takes so long / goes wrong so often!”

There are several preconditions for effective process mapping:

  • The process(es) to be mapped must be specifically defined before the meetings start.
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Organizational development and change books


This list is by no means meant to be a “best of” or exhaustive work – it’s a few books we’ve noted along the way.

  • Process Consultation – Edgar Schein’s two-volume work on process consultation. We recommend this for internal and external consultants. Discounted to $31.88 per volume. Volume I | Volume II.
  • The Service Profit Chain – ties employee and supplier factors with long-term success.
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Pareto charts: a quality / diagnostic tool

pareto charts

Pareto analysis is a simple way to figure out the major causes for a problem. Though it’s mostly  used by quality assurance people, pareto analysis is also useful for organizational development, because it is common in manufacturing (so many people are used to it), and because it is a clever system.

Typically, Pareto analysis is used both to kick off problem solving by helping to identify root causes (the basic, underlying issue which is causing the problem, as opposed to the “apparent” issue which may, in itself, be caused by something else – for example, replacing a defective voltage regulator which is allowing batteries to be damaged, rather than simply replacing the batteries).… Read the rest


Turning on the SPIGOT for effective change

spigot leadership and change

Process re-engineering, quality circles, organizational development, team-building, job enrichment, balanced scorecards, … there must have been hundreds of management and leadership fads over the years. They come charging in with success stories, and fall out of favor as fashions change or failures mount; often, they came back with different names and slight changes.

Can we drill down to what they all have in common, and why they worked for some people but not others?… Read the rest

Issues, Research/Surveys

The problem with employee survey norms


In general, the bane of custom surveys is not being able to provide norms.

That might not be as bad as it sounds.

While clients almost invariably ask for, or sometimes demand, norms for employee surveys and even 360° feedback items, we have found significant cultural impact on responses — which is to say that there is variance based solely on the organizational/regional culture where the questions are asked.… Read the rest


Career advice

The most common question we get is how people can pursue a career in organizational development. Here are some tips which may or may not work.

Career tips for the organizational development crew

Networking is by far the best way to get a job. As far as how to network:

  • Check out the professional organizations such as ODHRM, ISPI, OD Network, and SIOP.
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