The term organizational development is not the latest strategy or the newest buzz word. The concept evolved from the world of psychology in the 1930s and the term was coined 1950s. In the end, the idea is about keeping people engaged, passionate about company culture, and creating an environment where there is a common goal that people are committed to.
There are many layers to organizational development. Time, patience, care, planning, and resources all tie in to how effective strategies will be; hence, the idea that it’s not new. It’s certainly not a “one strategy fix”. Businesses need to be willing to dedicate all of these for true commitment to maintaining a healthy organization and one key observation – the cycle never ends.
So, where is the thread that you start pulling? Although many agree it’s the most obvious place to start, it’s often missed or glossed over. For any organization to have an outstanding culture, it must start through a guiding coalition at your leadership level. It’s not about an email or a talking point at a town hall. It’s about – you guessed it – time, patience, care, planning, and resources. Do your senior leaders talk about the importance of engagement at team meetings? Do they model the way by practicing effective organizational strategies? Do they consider the ramifications to culture when making business decisions? Do they pay close attention to planning for leadership changes to lead a company forward? If they aren’t doing those things, I would encourage you to pause your organizational development efforts and go back to form your guiding coalition. They set the tone for what people will ultimately do.
“When employees understand their growth and well-being are a priority, they are more likely to pass it on.”
Planning is one of the most exciting aspects to organizational development. Now, I recognize the act of it is not the most rewarding but, much as a gardener watches their flowers bloom, the end result can be enormously rewarding. First, pay close attention to your critical leadership roles. You have heard the term succession planning. The outcome is a smoother transition of leadership instead of a chaotic upheaval of losing someone critical to running your business. Pay attention to who is in a five year retirement window, attractive talent to the competition and possesses significant organizational knowledge. Succession planning occurs at all levels with many team members in development plans; however, start with your most critical roles.
For organizations to be truly successful long term, it doesn’t work if people don’t care about each other. The phrase “leave home at home and work at work” just isn’t true. We bring our whole selves wherever we go. Although I already spoke to leadership, I want to emphasize that practices start with leadership. Consider the philosophy of servant leadership where the goal of the leader is to serve. When employees understand their growth and well-being are a priority, they are more likely to pass it on. Ultimately, nothing exceptional can happen until people really feel connected emotionally.
So there it is- just good solid effort. Start at the top and engage the right resources in the right activities, plan for transition at all times, practice servant leadership to foster a culture of caring, and give your organization the time it needs to bloom. It will, if you are the patient gardener fostering it along the way.