Organisational development is about people. Have you ever noticed people from the same organisation often use the same language, phrases, clothing style or references when they talk?
Some groups of people can have a high level of energy and see many solutions while others express negativity or see things in black and white terms.
As a leader, you understand that organisational development is about people. Organisations are made of people. As with any living organism, organisations can have a climate or mood, display behaviours driven by values and model a culture in the way it ‘gets things done’, and use particular strategies to create change or growth.
Are you tired of the way people do things or the words people use in your team?
With a focus on organisational development you can directly influence the level of trust in your teams and the way things get done. Similar to the way Mark Zuckerberg lead Facebook’s assault on Google Plus1, organisational development needs to be actively led from the top, with clear processes and measured targets. Facebook won and so can you!
Widely accepted as the father of organisational development, Kurt Lewin began speaking with teams, companies and large organisations after World War II about how they did their jobs and how they bring change.
Lewin was personally involved as a consultant2, furiously mapping out how planning, taking-action, and measuring results was done so he could distil the wide variety of practices into a set of rules that everyone could use.
Lewin came to understand, as many entrepreneurs and leaders do, that it’s not so much about the particular tactics but that people go through, it is the process of doing it together.
To lead like Lewin today, you lead from the top3 and ask several questions of your teams. You will follow up and ensure success is shared. Here are the three questions you will ask and why they are important:
Organizational development takes place when you, the leader, understand how these three processes are happening now. Why? Because you ensure that ‘what works best’ is used consistently by your teams. The best practiced can be captured by video, placed on e-learning platforms for sharing across different locations or during induction training for new hires or it can form part of ongoing staff training. Capturing and then broadcasting the answers to the questions above builds a common language and processes.
Want More Trust? Focus on Challenge, not Conflict
Have you ever had an employee or team look at you sideways when you’ve shared your vision, goals or targets for the year? It usually signals a lack of trust in them that you believe what you’re saying. It is important that leaders challenge a lack of trust and take direct action in changing a culture that has low trust; low trust is like poisonous to any living organism.
Trust is difficult to earn and easy to lose. Organisational development seeks to build interpersonal trust among employees because it is directly related to their level of satisfaction in their roles and their commitment to the goals you’ve shared as the leader. If you want more trust in your team, focus on these four areas:
As the leader you can’t do everything, be everywhere and support everyone. What you can do is lead your organizational development by being the change agent from within.
Organizational development is not about building competition between people or teams, but it can be used to unify a team to compete with other companies, products or services. This builds trust between people and inter-team support5.
From increased staff morale, reduced turn-over and higher profits to regained customer satisfaction and new innovations driven by employees, organisational development has a number of benefits that make it worth the investment of time and energy. When everyone on the team knows the goals and the process to get there, conflict becomes constructive6 rather than destructive because people push each other to reach forward, be more effective and achieve more.
Ultimately, everyone has a measure of control over what they do and how they do it, while leaders directly lead the organisational development process in a way that increases contribution of everyone.