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Organisational Health Audits


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Organisational Health Audits assess through a collaborative process ways organisational and employee performance and well-being can be improved based on Human Activity System (HAS) criteria.

The approach taken recognizes that organisational performance and employee well-being are interconnected, and uses a Human Activity Systems (HAS) model to identify interdependent and interacting factors.

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Organisational Health Audits

  1. 1. Organisational Health Audits Version 7 April 2014 David Alman
  2. 2. An Organisational Health Audit is a means to assess the performance and well-being of both the organisation and employees (i.e. Organisational Health). As exampled in the diagram below different interrelated perspectives are involved. David Alman 2014 Organisation Performance Operational Performance Role Performance Employee & Group Well- being Organisational Health Audits
  3. 3. Organisational Health Audits assess conflict issues affecting performance & well-being David Alman 2014 Organisational Health Audits
  4. 4. Organisation Structure Function A Function B Function C Processes 1, 2, 3 Processes 4, 5, 6 Processes X1, X2, X3 Teams 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Team 6, Employees 1, 2 Employees X1, X2, X3 “Alignment” examples are shown in the organisation structure above in terms of: Organisational Structure alignment e.g. Functional “silos” affecting coordination; Function “C” alignment e.g. a Service Function area providing poor service; Functions “A” & “B” alignment e.g. an area with poor coordination across Functions that have interdependent processes (1,2,3,4,5 & 6) in providing delivery to external customers; “Team 6” alignment e.g. an area with unsatisfactory team performance. Organisational Health Audits look at the expected or preferred “alignment” sought by an organisation and employees i.e. “what is” and “what should be” David Alman 2014 Organisational Health Audits
  5. 5. Other examples of alignment between “what is” and “what should be” can include: Level Alignment Issue Problem- Examples Organisation Accountability Framework Inefficient reporting arrangements; inconsistent accountability applied across organisation; role confusion. Organisational Change Unaccepted change; resistance leading to reversion to past valued (but now inefficient) practices Organisational Conflict Numbers of disputes, complaints, expressions of dissatisfaction and stress concerns. Increased cost from low commitment, high turnover, and presenteeism. Culture Inappropriate attitudes, behaviours, and decisions causing ineffective organisation and employee performance Processes Operational Productivity Interdependent processes inefficiently aligned and not meeting stakeholder wants/needs Capability Frameworks Inability to sustain service or quality of service delivery Roles Role Selection Poor person/role fit in selection resulting in poor performance Employee Performance Purpose of role inadequately understood; inappropriate behaviour; incompetence in admin/ technical/ professional/ managerial ability; conflict between personal and “core” organisational values. David Alman 2014 Organisational Health Audits
  6. 6. David Alman 2014 Organisational Health Audits take a “wholistic”, not a piece meal, approach recognising there are common underlying causes interacting and affecting both organisational performance and employee well-being (i.e. they are connected). Organisational Health Audits
  7. 7. David Alman 2014 To be “wholistic” Organisational Health Audits use a “systems thinking” approach. A “System” is “any group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent parts that form a complex whole that has a specific purpose” (D. Kim in “Introduction to Systems Thinking”). Specifically a Human Activity System (HAS) which looks at both organisational activities, and people interactions in achieving some purpose. See diagram below. Human Activity System Activity System (Human Designed) Interactional system (Social) Based on a diagram from D Patching in “Practical Soft Systems Analysis” Organisational Health Audits
  8. 8. David Alman 2014 Purpose e.g. Clarity of goals, aims, targets Means (Human Designed) e.g. processes, policies, plans, organisational structures, management systems, Relations (Interactional) e.g. Social interactions and networks between individuals and groups, behaviours, conflicts. The Human Activity System (HAS) model (within which HAS Criteria are drawn and used for assessment) is shown below, indicating their interrelationships. Meaning e.g. “world view”, paradigms. beliefs, values, attitudes – culture & climate: the way we do things around here Organisational Health Audits
  9. 9. Organisational Health Audits assess issues based on the Human Activity System (HAS) model and related “criteria”. Example HAS “criteria” are shown in red ink below. Organisational Performance At Organisation, Process, and Role level covering: Purposesuch as clarity of goals, aims, targets. Means such as efficiency & effectiveness of: Structures e.g. Reporting and role design Practices e.g. management systems, processes, procedures, standards, change projects. Rights e.g. policies, rules, accountability. Relationssuch as employee and group relations, leadership effectiveness, value of communication networks. Meaningsuch as the values, beliefs, norms, attitudes that give meaning to what is done. Employee Well-being Employee Satisfaction e.g. level of satisfaction with job, relationships, and work conditions. Employee Health Social Well-being e.g. is pro-social group behaviours supported or are there hazards from anti-social group behaviour? Mental Well-being e.g. Is there emotional & cognitive development or is there stress and distress? Physical Well-being e.g. Is there physical wellness or unacceptable risk exposure to illness, injury, or death? David Alman 2014 Organisational Health Audits
  10. 10. David Alman 2014 Purposeful Actions e.g. actions made to achieve a Purpose Results e.g. Outcomes including adverse consequences Means and Relations e.g. Work practices that drive Actions, such as policies, plans, processes, standards, leadership style, interpersonal conflict Meaning e.g. Paradigms, beliefs, norms, assumptions, attitudes that provide “meaning” to what we do – to the way we do things around here. Single Loop: Are we doing things right? e.g. Are the results what we want and expect? What should change to improve organisation/employee well-being outcomes? Double Loop: Are we doing the right things? e.g. Are there better ways of achieving our Purpose? How could we improve practices & relationships? Triple Loop: How do we decide what is right? e.g. Are we approaching this issue with the right attitude? Do we need a different perspective about what we are doing? This “Triple Loop” of Learning model has the same headings (as the HAS Model headings shown in the grey coloured boxes) Both relevant to Organisational Health Audits. The diagram shows how the HAS model links to “Triple loops” in exploring issues and assessing the degree of change involved (shown in white boxes). Organisational Health Audits
  11. 11. David Alman 2014 Organisational Health Audits How to carry out an Organisational Health Audit:  Agree the Scope of the Organisational Health Audit. What range of matters is thought to be affecting organisational and employee performance and well being that need to be clarified and addressed?  Agree the purpose and methodology in carrying out the Organisational Health Audit with the Executive, including the HAS criteria to be used. For example “assess the effects of the recent organisational restructure and identify organisational and employee issues that need to be addressed”  Use a collaborative approach in consulting both the executive and employees involved.  Reassure audit privacy for employees both before and in carrying out the Organisational Health Audit: No personal details will be divulged. Organisational Health Audits can involve different forms of confidential arrangements: • Interviews; • Workshops; • Individual survey responses based, where possible, on employee preferred arrangements.  Draft an Organisational Health Report that is discussed with the executive, then shared, consulted, and agreed in collaboration with employees.  Based on the agreed Organisational Health Report, an agreed implementation action plan is added.
  12. 12. Gap Analysis Headings Gap to be addressed (Actual statements from confidential interviews, workshops, and survey) Agreed recommendations (extracts) 1. “The work” Present Role Descriptions are so generic they are ineffective in supporting/assessing/ defining role specific performance. Revise Role Descriptions to ensure the Employee Performance Management System (EPM) meets needs. 2. Training & development Complaints about inadequate understanding of role by new appointees, and its relation to teams. Develop localised Role Induction Training Package (“On boarding”). 3. Communication, consultation, & Involvement (CCI) Lack of information – brick wall; Lack of communication between levels when decisions are being made that affects workplace & roles; lack of ability to make suggestions Set up regular (inter level) team meetings to brief and discuss staff relevant issues in a form that they can relate to. 4. Management approach Lack of leadership; Favouritism; No support/coaching; Don’t feel I can escalate complaints for fear of victimisation by manager Develop a “common” management approach that ensures staff work and personal concerns meet their needs. 5. Management of change Don’t see the value of change; there is too much change/there is too little change; change causes additional (unaddressed) problems Include a “collaborative” approach to change management programs to identify, & resolve ongoing change issues. 6. Intrapersonal & interpersonal conflicts Work causes immense pressures; personality conflicts; inequity; poor work ethic/attitude; lack of mutual respect; stress arising from issues Develop and implement a stress management model and methodologies for managers, team leaders, and staff. David Alman 2014 Sample extract - based on a completed Organisational Health Audit Report Organisational Health Audits
  13. 13. About the author David Alman lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and offers services in Organisational Health. Organisational Health is a broad overview term that refers to assessing and improving performance and well being of both an organisation and its employees, recognising there is a nexus between the two. Further articles, blogs, and slides, can be found on David’s Proventive Solutions Google Site. Please refer to