Case Study 1: Organization Development, Team Development, Conflict Negotiation and Retreat Facilitation
State agency division with a $200 million budget. The former assistant director had left and an interim A.D. was put in place until a new person was selected and to assess and improve management practices. The interim A.D. learned the units were operated as silos. There had been little management or organization development over the years, resulting in a lack of cooperation, support, sharing of resources, efficiencies, of being on the same page with the agency values, and direction among the units. The interim director wanted a two-day executive retreat for her and the division managers to use as a spring board for a more collaborative and committed division management team eventually leading to the division becoming more efficient and have a stronger presence within the agency.
To design a retreat that would be impactful, we conducted Discovery & Analysis prior to the retreat allowing each manager the opportunity to discuss their views of the organization and its leadership, the challenges being faced, areas for improvement, and what their hopes were for a successful retreat. An equally important reason for the one-on-one meetings was to allow each person to vent by “letting some air out of the balloon”. Given the anticipated change in leadership, we felt it critical to give people an opportunity to be heard and to be as inclusive as possible. One-on-one interviews were conducted with each manager in which we asked a series of questions around key areas, that when aligned, make for an effective organization: strategic direction, customer focus, leadership behaviors, decision making, organization structure, performance management, communication, etc.
Our approach was to seek perceptions from each person on the key components of effective organizations which when they are misaligned can result in conflict, low motivation, frustration, undesirable results, and turnover, and to use this data in the retreat design. We also solicited anonymous data through a survey.
Partnering with the interim A.D., we focused the retreat on helping this group of people get to know one another; team building; surfacing covert or "below the waterline issues" that our experience tells us are critical before getting team commitment and sustainability ofany change in behavior; help them increase awareness of the current organizational dynamics and their participation in those dynamics; understanding change and what it takes to commit to it; deciding how they want to work together in the future; and preparing for the new A.D.
Within the retreat the management leadership team members got to start to know one another and talk about issues that mattered and had until now been “undiscussables”, determined that there were many more pros than cons of staying together, recognized the opportunities that their different functions and viewpoints could provide instead of perceived differences being limitations, resolved areas of conflict, came up with a list of top division priorities to work on, and left inspired and enthused to take a more proactive individual and collective leadership role. Commitments were made to actively develop their working relationships, as they realized this was necessary to their new found determination to increase the organization’s effectiveness, performance and morale.
Based on our Discovery & Analysis, survey data, and retreat experience, we made further recommendations for the successful assimilation of the new A.D. into the culture once hired, as well as organization development recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the division and its leaders and managers.