Let’s be honest: organisational development sounds a bit dull, doesn’t it? But the question of why you should be interested in it has a compelling answer. Organisational development is about the structures and processes within your organisation, and these have a huge influence on the behaviour of your people.
Developing your organisation in a way that suits modern life can either motivate or demotivate employees. As we all know, people are the key to the success – or failure – of our companies. So let’s clarify what we mean by modern life.
We are all are increasingly challenged by change. Technology is making our world faster and the globalised economy is making it smaller; both are making it more competitive. If we want our organisations to survive and thrive, we must keep adapting to the change all around us.
We need to become more nimble, customer-driven, innovative, and effective. So how do we get there? You know the answer: by attracting and retaining competent and committed employees
In a world that is increasingly fraught, what do today’s workers want? Most people want:
- More satisfaction in their work.
- A good balance between their work and home lives.
This requires more flexible organisational structures such as allowing people to work from home more often, new types of leadership, i.e., more open-minded and trusting, and new ways of managing by which we mean not micro managing.
And here’s where organisational development comes into the picture: it moves organisations forward by taking deliberate and planned steps to create an environment that enables employees to get behind organisational objectives.
Get it right and it helps to navigate change that will enable us to better use our financial, human and technological resources. It will also foster a greater sense of purpose throughout the organisation, creating the performance improvement our organisations need to remain competitive in a constantly changing world.
Get it wrong and you will have change that is haphazard, uncoordinated, and leaves employees feeling frustrated. They become disillusioned and resistant when management tries to implement the next major change.
Organisational development involves hard issues such as strategies and policies, structures and systems, and soft issues such as developing appropriate skills, behaviour, attitudes, culture and a style of leadership that enable optimum performance. Both types of issues need to be addressed to avoid conflict between goals and needs.
Organisational development can help to:
- Build or strengthen structures and systems to improve organisational effectiveness
- Develop strategic and operational plans
- Change culture with the benefit of professional growth in individuals
- Resolve organisational problems.
We need to sound a note of caution here. Organisational development should not become just a means of diagnosing training needs, and for very good reason: many organisational problems can’t be fixed by training alone because they’re systemic problems such as trust and communication issues, or lack of cooperation between employees.
To fix these problems, the organisation needs to examine how people treat each other and how decisions are made, and then make appropriate, systematic and planned changes.
Daunting it may be, dull it is not. Going through a process of formal organisational development is an exciting time in the life of your organisation. With the participation and collaboration of all your employees you have the opportunity to inject huge doses of inspiration into your people and set your company on the road to greater success.