An Introduction to Group Assessments

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford

As difficult as personal assessment can be, it’s much easier to measure an individual’s strengths and opportunities for improvement than it is to quantify and manage such characteristics at an organizational level. Last month [link to beginning of April blog articles] we provided a sample of various personal assessment tools that Brighter Strategies uses. Earlier this year [link to beginning of Q1 series] we looked at the components of organization development and culture. For the next several blog posts, we’ll put these ideas together by exploring how assessments can be used to measure and improve team and organizational performance.

Trusted group assessments

Brighter Strategies uses two leading organizational assessments with many clients at both a team and organizational level: the Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI) and the Organizational Effectiveness Inventory (OEI). Both are the flagship products of organizational development firm Human Synergistics International.

The OCI is the most widely-used and thoroughly-researched tool for measuring organizational culture in the world. The OCI can identify a potential need for cultural transformation, create and improve organizational development programs, enhance managers’ understanding of culture and sustainability, and manage diversity and corporate responsibility.

The OEI complements the OCI by measuring the change factors that affect culture and the subsequent outcomes at the individual, group, and organizational levels. It links culture in terms of what people experience as members of the organization; the impact these perceptions have on their believed expectations; and how culture leads to important outcomes such as engagement, teamwork, and adaptability.

When used together, the OCI and OEI assess the most important internal factors and conditions likely to impact organizational performance and sustainability.

The OCI and OEI at work

Our friend Jerry Miller is back on the scene, and since we last heard from him [link to prior blog post], he’s been promoted to a director-level role at his agency. His ability to motivate and engage employees in his former position, using individual assessments, is no secret to his organization’s leaders. As a result, Jerry’s been tasked to implement group assessments during his recurring weekly leadership team meeting with peers.

Jerry chooses the OCI to measure the current culture of the leadership team in terms of shared behavioral norms, or the actions and values members believe are required to “fit in” and meet expectations. Members’ answers reveal to what extent they exhibit a range of constructive, passive/defensive, and aggressive/defensive norms.

Next, Jerry uses the 128-question OEI as a complement to the OCI. This survey gathers confidential feedback from leaders’ experiences and perceptions of factors that influence, and can be changed to improve, organizational culture and performance. It also measures the impact of culture on teamwork.

Not surprisingly, Jerry learns that his new peers in senior leadership operate similarly to his prior employees. For example, aggressive/defensive norms dominate the group culture, which could explain why staff at lower levels of the organization tend to embody the same behaviors: They have seen them consistently modeled at the top. Jerry decides to walk through the results of the team assessment using his agency’s “power teams strategy,” recently implemented by an organization development consulting firm for this very leadership team.

Stay tuned next week to learn how organizational development consultant Brighter Strategies’s resource guide, “Power Teams: Creating Effective Work Groups That Get Things Done” [link to guide] can be applied to group assessments.

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