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Learn, Understand, Implement
By: Matthew W. Hurtienne, Ph.D
Associate Dean – Batterman and Haab School of Business

Director of Doctorate of Business Administration 

As professionals, we can read a lot of books, stream videos, complete formal human resource training, and attend conferences (like the upcoming SHRM conference) to learn more about organizational performance. As a result, we are surrounded by many organizational concepts that can be deployed in our organization to improve performance. But how do you know if the organizational performance concept is applicable to your situation?

It is equally important to recognize that any organizational performance concept implemented improperly can negatively impact your culture and your organizational performance. Many change processes fail due to a lack of understanding of the concept being deployed or improperly used. Many of you have studied change and how to evoke change within our workforce ethically. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that incorrectly rolling out an organizational improvement process can be seen as negligence or even delict of duty.  

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear about an incident where an organization discussed the current level of employee engagement with the employees directly. The organization asked for the employees to do better and to help increase the engagement scores as the workforce was only 50% engaged. In addition, some teams were asked to reach a goal where the entire team was engaged. Although the intent was positive, there seemed to be a lack of understanding of what employee engagement really was, and putting the stress of improving employee engagement on the employees increased the levels of stress.

Please take the time to understand the concept you would like to deploy and understand how the rollout can impact the outcome. In the concept of employee engagement, it is the amount in which employees are willing to invest in the success of the organization. Often employee engagement is more of an outcome of leadership and organizational culture. Yes, employees can choose to be more engaged, but they will not unless there is reason to become more engaged. Maybe the question should have been, what can the organization do to help improve employee engagement? Also, although it would be great to have 100% of our workforce be engaged, we also know that the average workforce in the United States is only 30% fully-engagement (Carnegie, 2018). It’s ok to set stretch goals and continue to work for improvement but make sure it is done in a way that is achievable.

So, what are a few steps you can take to help ensure success?
  • Take the time to ensure the organizational improvement concept that you plan to deploy is grounded in practical research.
  • Read case studies on how the concept was utilized in business.
  • Determine the strengths and weaknesses of the concept. Become an expert with eyes wide open.
  • Review to see if the concept is applicable to your organization and that the concept is appropriate for the situation.
  • Be able to explain the concept to the entire workforce.
  • Create a plan to monitor the implementation and ongoing operation of the concept.


 
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