For an organization to thrive, it must be committed to continual, positive change. The secret to this level of growth is implementing an organizational development (OD) strategy at your company.
Organizational Development is a research-backed model for collecting information on company weaknesses, then making a plan to improve them through constant change. It views the company holistically for change opportunities instead of focusing on just one group (like employees, tech, or strategy). Done correctly, organizational development creates an engaged, empowered workforce.
The 4 components of organizational development
Employees: Sometimes called “Human Process Interventions,” these changes improve employee relationships and dynamics. Common interventions include one-on-one coaching for employees struggling with communication, group team building activities to boost camaraderie, or guided conflict mediation for issue resolution.
Technology/Structure: Sometimes called “Technostructural Interventions,” these changes improve the organization’s technology or reporting structure. A company may restructure its org chart — flattening it for improved communication or creating a hierarchy for clearer reporting — as part of this intervention. Other interventions include process improvements, like Lean or Six Sigma, or choosing a new work design, like the rotation, engineering, enlargement, or enrichment approaches.
Human Resources: Sometimes called “Human Resource Management Interventions,” these changes improve how the company manages employees. They evaluate and improve how HR recognizes and rewards employees, how they invest in career development and how they design performance evaluations. Interventions may look like designing a plan to increase workplace diversity, investing more in employee mental health and wellness resources, or improving talent development practices.
Strategy: These are changes that radically overhaul the organization’s purpose, offerings, or mission. This category includes major cultural shifts, like going from a brick-and-mortar company to a fully remote distributed workplace. Significant product alterations are also included, such as Netflix’s shift from video rentals to online streaming or Amazon’s transformation from a bookseller to an online marketplace.
The organizational development cycle
The first stage of the OD cycle identifies company weaknesses that require improvement. Collect data like company performance metrics and NPS results for quantitative information. Then, survey employees and managers on what they’d like to change in the company and why for qualitative information.
Once the information is collected, investigate why these issues exist and what steps have already been taken for improvement. If attempts to solve the issue have failed in the past, determine what element(s) caused the failure and address them during strategy development.
Once the weaknesses are identified, design and develop the solutions to improve them. The action plan should answer a few key questions:
Who will be responsible for carrying out these changes? Identify specific OD champions and clearly define their roles.
What resources are necessary for success? Resources may include time, money, training, or, in many cases, all three.
What will the implementation timeline look like? Providing a clear deadline for implementation and measurement ensures a sense of urgency and movement.
How will success be measured? Since OD uses data to objectively evaluate success, quantitative info must be an element of each plan.
How will these changes be communicated? Make sure the rollout plan for this change is clearly defined and you know how and when these changes will be shared with employees to gain buy-in.
Once these answers are defined and clear for each implementation plan, you’re ready to begin rollout.
Implementation is the “big show,” where you finally put your plans and strategies into practice in the workforce. The most important part of implementation is supporting employees through the changes. Implementation should happen on three levels: the individual - through interviews and 1:1 meetings, the group - through workshops and the company as a whole - by changing organizational practices.
The final step of the OD cycle is collecting data again to compare to the baseline. Re-evaluation also means assessing whether the identified outcomes came to be and if they didn’t, determining why. This step also includes another round of employee and manager feedback on what worked, what still needs improvement and suggestions for the next round of change.
How OD benefits employees
Properly executed organizational development greatly improves employees’ engagement, efficiency and communication.
To bolster your employee support, consider adding Talkspace to your employee offerings. Talkspace’s online therapy is an easy, convenient and confidential way to support your employees’ mental health both in and out of the office