Apr 02, 2019 | 3
Minute Read

7 Keys to Successful Organizational Development

group of people around a campfire

Business is no longer business as usual. In fact, those who don’t embrace change in the modern workplace run the risk of becoming yesterday’s news. Today, the organization needs to be working in unison, aligned with a strategic plan that has the buy-in from all members of the team, regardless of position.

Organizational development can be defined as the theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs and values of employees. How does an organization get all of its employees to be part of the process? These seven strategies proposed in a recent humanresourcesmba.net article can help an organization create a unified company direction, rallying around a strategic plan created and embraced by all employees.

Involve all employees in decision making

In the days of old, leaders and managers sat in boardrooms and created strategic plans. Once they were done planning, employees were expected to follow the newly implemented plans and be fully on board, even if they had nothing to do with the plan or no say in it. It’s pretty easy to see how that might not be the most successful way to go about it.

Involving employees in the entirety of the planning process serves the single-most important purpose of giving them input into the company plan. If they have a say in the plan, how could they not be on board with it? By believing they are part of the change, they are more engaged and more willing to go along with the plan, even portions of it that they may not necessarily embrace.

The key is to empower employees with the tools, including the necessary decision-making abilities, to do their job unencumbered. Let them own their unique part of the company’s universe and be fully responsible for it.

Change should focus on groups and departments

Each specific department should be analyzed to see where it is highly functional and where it can be improved. The change should be department wide, not necessarily put on the shoulders of certain individuals. Look at the whole of the group and try to identify common themes. Are certain deadlines not being met consistently? What might be the cause of this? Are there recurring bottlenecks that are inhibiting a smooth work path? What can be done, department-wide, that might improve these workflows?

Build trust throughout the organization

Employees simply will not give their full effort and attention to a company that they do not trust. Building trust with the employee is paramount to getting the employee’s buy-in to the company’s strategic plan. Trust and respect are the building blocks upon which all good company/employee relations are built.

Building trust should not be an afterthought. Without this important component, nothing else really matters. Everything starts and ends with mutual trust.

Encourage collaboration over competition

It used to be common to create internal competitions to spur action. But for every competition, there needs to be a loser. When someone loses repetitively, they may eventually decide to stop competing. A better alternative is to create an environment of collaboration over competition.

When people work together, they all have a part in the success and no one has to lose. Of course, ensuring a smooth workflow free from bottlenecks is paramount to ensuring the success of the collaboration, but as long as safeguards are put in place, a collaborative work environment can produce higher quality work with less stress on individual employees.

Invest in education, benefits and incentives

Helping your employees become masters of their own personal universe empowers them to excel at their activities. Investing in education to help them learn the necessary skills to do their jobs to the best of their ability. On or off-site training can help improve specific skills and keeps employees current on new methods, techniques and information.

Create the opportunity for employee feedback

Having open channels of communication is key for an organization to ensure it’s strategic plan gets carried out. Not only should employees have an unrestricted ability to give meaningful feedback, including constructive criticism, during the planning stages, they should have the ability to openly communicate all along the way should unforeseen problems arise.

This two-way communication should not be restricted to annual performance reviews or monthly one-on-one meetings. Employees should be able to voice their opinions at any time in order to ensure that operations continue to run smoothly.

Involve all members of the organization

It’s important to showcase the importance of diversity of thought, and the need for every member of the organization to participate in strategic planning sessions. The greatest ideas may not always come from the person with the most prestigious title.

It just may be the janitor that sees something that needs attention that others may miss. It may be the receptionist who talks with people on a daily basis that has the true pulse of the organization and some of its customers’ concerns. Never discount a person’s opinion simply because of their position within the company and get feedback and input from every single member of the organization.


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Dave Clark