A step towards ROI on employee development
February 26, 2018 Jessie Blaeser
Everyone is on a mission. Every person and every company is working towards something. It’s amazing that we’re able to come together to work consistently towards the same mission for years given how much our processes depend on us–our personalities, our preferences, and our performance. Organizational network analysis captures these unique group processes and can fuel positive development from existing relationships. In doing so, this kind of analysis is making strides towards the elusive goal of establishing ROI on soft skill training, making it something that everyone should be paying attention to.
Catalyst: In what ways can an organizational network analysis lay the groundwork for change and development?
Deborah: “Well, this diagnostic can help identify change agents, which is huge for implementing new initiatives. Let’s say there is a major change initiative like putting in new a software system that will affect the entire company, like an ERP system or something like that. The leadership knows that everyone will be affected in some way, and also that they’ve been using their previous system for 10+ years. The employees all have their processes figured out, and people are used to doing things a certain way. The challenge for the leadership is to get people to utilize and integrate the new software and make the change, or else the company won’t meet their numbers. It boils down to ‘if people don’t make the change, then the change fails,’ even if the software is successfully installed. “This resistance is why so many changes fail because people don’t accept the new practices. Sometimes people even think they’ve accepted the change, but they haven’t actually integrated the new system into their daily practices. But ONA as a diagnostic can help identify who the change agents are. Meaning the leadership then knows who to go to first and who to get on board. Then, through the network, they will take care of everybody else. The resistance to change is lowered through understanding how your organization disseminates information.”
Organizations are always changing, people are always getting hired or moving to something new inside the company or outside of it. How can the insights from an organizational network analysis last more than a few weeks before that network has changed again?
“That’s a great question, and you’re right, from day to day, your connections might change. Networks are dynamic. But the analysis is designed to reflect long-term relationships. Here’s an example of how it works: the two of us just met, so our answers to the questions in the analysis might not even hit its radar. If we’re asked who we go to for information, well we’re just starting to get to know each other, so for us, the answer would be on an infrequent basis. But certainly with the people you work with all the time, you’ll show up maybe on a weekly basis, which indicates a long-term relationship. The analysis will tell you how long that pattern has existed too.”
Most people are chasing after the ability to quantify soft skill training. Has the organizational network analysis been able to accomplish this?
“In my opinion, I think it’s cracked the code on spelling out ROI on soft skill training. Would everyone else accept that? Probably not. Most people don’t use this organizational network analysis, nor know that it exists. But I think we’ve cracked the code especially in the soft skills area.Think of it like this: in a 300-person organization with 50 leaders, I can isolate those 50 leaders and help them understand where they can grow, and I can demonstrate the impact they have on the organization, even from financial productivity measures, and demonstrate the impact improving in a few areas will have on the entire organization. I can work with them to figure out how effective they are in the networks that they have or where they need to develop new connections to make the impact they want.”
Deborah Peck founded Seity Insight with one goal in mind: to enhance business effectiveness through people. She earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology, where she spent much of her time researching employee trust in leadership. Deborah uses her robust background in education, technology, leadership, and human behavior to aid organizations through major shifts; her science-based approach is unlike many others, as it maps the future of an organization through insight on existing human connections. If you’d like to learn more about Deborah or Seity Insight, click here.
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