Archive for the ‘Organizational Development & Organizational Change Management’ Category

Organizational Development

All articles in Blog published 2011-2012

The field of Organizational Development (OD) is so fascinating that I decided to start a blog about it. There are many definitions of OD. As I was first introduced to the field many years ago, I tend to agree with this definition: …”a planned, organization-wide effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness and viability.”

Another field that goes hand-in-hand with OD is Organizational Change Management (OCM). A definition: “Organizational change management (OCM) is a framework for managing the effect of new business processes, changes in organizational structure or cultural changes within an enterprise. Simply put, OCM addresses the people side of change management.”  – – There are many change models which can be used for successful change management –  – I have used several throughout the years, including Prosci ADKAR and Kotter’s 8-step models.

Even though the term ‘Organizational Change Management’ was never mentioned when I was first introduced to OD, it was part of my training, as well as performance management and other subsets of OD.  I tend to group all of the subsets together under one category (OD) when I speak about the field I have such passion for. OD kind of fell in my lap early in my career as a blue-collar worker. The following describes the two experiences which carved out my career.

In the early 80s, I was hired for blue-collar work in a small juice-processing plant (Ben Hill Griffin- Plymouth, IN) which Procter & Gamble had just bought to test market a new product (Citrus Hill Orange Juice). During my time there, the company engaged and empowered all of us to take ownership of our product. We not only worked together as a team to address production, process and quality, but were also involved with taste tests in the lab, marketing for the product (TV commercials) and cross-training. Those of us in the group who wanted to cross-train for existing plant leadership roles were encouraged to do so. I was one of them.  We were also taught about the different transitions a company goes through during change.  As a team, we were involved with organizational development from the ground up.   My first involvement with OD made such a huge impact on me that a few years later after I had to relocate to another company/manufacturing plant, a second opportunity to become involved with OD presented itself. I jumped at the chance.

My second chance of OD involvement came during late 80s.  I worked for a small family-owned precision steel bearings manufacturing company (McGill-Monticello, IN) again as a blue-collar worker. The company was in the beginning stages of change as Emerson Electric was in the process of buying this company in order to save it from a hostile takeover. During this time, Corporate decided to start a pilot which involved  several employees from all levels of the organization. This pilot group was to address process improvement, quality, cross-training, problem-solving, etc. I was chosen to be part of this pilot. We were considered the main action team. The company gave us the tools we needed by training us in the following areas:


  • Verbal
    • Listening Skills
    • Presenting Skills
  • Nonverbal (body language)

Problem solving

  • Cause and effect sessions
  • Fishbone problem solving tool
  • The 5 Whys
  • Brainstorming
  • Rapid problem solving

Team Building

  • Action Teams
    • How to be a good leader
    • How to be a good follower
    • Engaging employees
    • Conducting team meetings
    • Rapid team building


  • Internal Customers
  • External Customers

Process Improvement (Lean)

Project Management

Training (Facilitation)

While on this team, we were engaged and empowered. Our first project dealt with one product line (Line 21) for which we changed the manufacturing process from batch to line process. This involved moving machines and other equipment. Once we started the project, we were given the authority to stop the production line if any one of us found a quality or process problem. We wanted to bring awareness to these issues. We identified problems and quickly solved those through problem-solving teams. This particular project took us several months to complete, but we were successful. We were engaged, empowered, and accountable. We made a difference for the company. The rest of the machines in the plant were eventually moved, in staged efforts, to allow for the process change for all of our products.

During a timeframe of  several years, the team membership of this group changed to engage other employees, who formed subset teams for areas we identified for improvement. We addressed cross-training, various process improvements, performance management, timeliness, quality, and culture, among other things. Eventually, this team was phased out. This was my second experience with OD. Shortly thereafter, I would crave the excitement of the field so much so that I eventually went back to school while working fulltime and obtained my B.S. and M.S. in fields which aligned with OD. I went from blue-collar work to white-collar work in order to seek out opportunities where I could really make a difference.

This takes me to the present. I have been a professional for several years now. I have drawn from my past experience in OD and my continuous learning of the field to implement many initiatives which improved organizational effectiveness. After all of these years, the passion for this field is still like a fire in my belly. I did not choose OD as a career, the field chose me. There are numerous opportunities to make a difference, so my journey is never-ending. My blog will include many aspects of the field. In addition, I may include my responses to various discussion board questions relating to OD. Regardless of the content, I hope you enjoy my blog!

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD ~ Organizational Development Professional


Participative Management and Organizational Change

A definition of Participative Management –

Just a few of my posts to questions on various discussion boards:

What management style works best during these challenging times?

I am a firm believer that a participative style of management is critical in a changing environment. If we engage and empower folks during challenging and changing times, a maximum ROI is the end result =cost savings. As leaders, if we do not communicate what is going on within the working environment and the potential impact of changes, we create fear. Fear equates stress, panic, less work output, health issues, quality issues, etc. which becomes a cost issue. I have been through both scenarios and can attest to the end results. In conclusion, I believe that during challenging times, the best management style is participative. Communicating to folks what is going on and involving them in the changes will bring better results and return on investment.

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD
Organizational Development Professional
March 21, 2009

How do you win the hearts and minds on an organizational change project?

I believe the current economic climate is creating a panic to quickly change. I feel that many steps in the transition are skipped–A big mistake, in my opinion. The more we are open and upfront about the changes we are trying to drive through an organization, the more successful the end results. Many years ago, I was part of a pilot project. There were several of us on this team from various levels of the organization. There were no levels of hierarchy. We were engaged and empowered. Communication about the changes was upfront-no hidden agendas. We were totally involved from the project process/structure and engaging hearts and minds of others for buy-in. Our enthusiasm brought others to buy in to the changes. Others jumped on the bandwagon once they saw the end result of our pilot project. We did have buy-in from top level down, for the most part. Cynicals had to be ‘shown’ on a smaller scale the positive rewards the changes would bring.

If we do not go the extra mile to gain buy-in, do not engage and empower our folks through teams and various avenues, do not utilize participative style of management, the end result will be a nightmare! Distrust, stress, disconnect, performance issues, lack of quality work, health issues, etc. will become very apparent in the working environment while attempting change. There must be a balance, but we need to involve our folks and make it clear the changes coming and how they might be affected through the various steps of the project. People tend to be uncomfortable with change. They have been accustomed to living in their comfort zone. Change is a process. If we skip steps in the process, we might stumble!

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD
Organizational Development Professional
March 24, 2009

How do you introduce a participative management style into a traditional management style environment (for a change initiative)?

I would like to elaborate on motivating factors. Everyone has different motivating factors. Interview & survey employees & the traditional-style manager to find out what makes them tick. Show these folks (& the manager) on a smaller scale what participative management can do. Choose a simple project, such as what to include in the company newsletter or what color to paint the lunch room. Ask for input from all….follow through & follow up on the project and then evaluate to see if motivation increased. Get buy-in and align with the traditional manager, using your results. I have led a group through changes by using a small-scale change project as mentioned above, using participative-style leadership. This group could not understand the ‘big picture’ of change & participative management, until I showed them on a smaller scale. I do agree with the others that whatever you do should be done carefully, as to not upset the apple cart too quickly before you even get started. You might think about using teams comprised of different levels of the organization to help you roll out the initiative. Bringing about awareness of the reason you need the changes is a must, as well.

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD
Organizational Development Professional
October 16, 2009

The Silo Effect – Communications (Part 1)

Because of my background and experience, I am often tasked to analyze communications for silos and then propose and implement solutions to address the issues. Let’s start with some definitions and related material:

“An information silo is a management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related management systems. … The expression is typically applied to management systems where the focus is inward and information communication is vertical. Critics of silos contend that managers serve as information gatekeepers, making timely coordination and communication among departments difficult to achieve, and seamless interoperability with external parties impractical.”

“As of 2010 the phrase “silo effect”, popular in the business and organizational communities, refers to a lack of communication and common goals between departments in an organization. It is the opposite of systems thinking in an organization. The silo effect gets its name from the farm storage silo; each silo is designated for one specific grain….. A lack of communication causes departmental thinking to lack ideas from other departments.”

As stated in an online article titled, A Matter of Trust and Respect:  “As organizations grow and reach a certain size, they frequently share a common characteristic. It is the affliction of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. How often have I heard a senior manager say to a colleague, “If you had just asked, we would have been happy to help.” It’s a case of every employee for himself, and no one rowing together for the common goals of the company…

The symptoms of the silo effect are easy to recognize: lack of cooperation, internal competition and breakdown in communication. The result is that one division gets pitted against another…

Generally, silos are an offshoot of decentralized management…..Once one sector starts to see its own goals as more important than those of the organization as a whole, and when individualism predominates over team spirit, silos emerge.”

Have I sparked your interest yet? More than likely, you have been involved in organizations at one time or another where silos have been prevalent within the management systems. Some organizations have silos- from top down, while others have silos between and within departments and business units. Many organizations are in denial of having silos. Many claim that communications is top priority within their organizations. Really? How can silos affect an organization? Simply stated: effectiveness, growth, quality, culture, production, performance, process, innovation, team cohesiveness, stress level, retention…shall I go on?

While the main objective for this blog entry is to bring awareness to silos, I will address root cause and how to solve the problems of silos in another entry. This posting is just something to chew on for awhile and reflect possible silos in your organization. Do I have your attention yet? Is this something you will only think about on a rainy day?  Just remember that silos affect maximum organizational effectiveness. How long can you afford to wait to address the issues?

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD ~ Organizational Development Professional

The Silo Effect – Communications (Part 2)

The objective of my last blog posting was to bring awareness about communication silos. This post addresses several root causes and suggestions on how to solve the problems of communication silos. I do hope you have had a chance to reflect on possible silos in your organization. Let’s get on with the good stuff and discuss root causes and solutions, shall we? In the spirit of the Final Four of March Madness, good luck to the Indiana Men & Women’s NCAA basketball teams – Butler Bulldogs and Notre Dame Fighting Irish…..Game on!

When a company experiences fast growth, it tends to become more segmented. To address the growth, the company may add business units, e.g., to the organizational structure.  What happens if the company’s core values, strategies, mission, and vision are not clearly communicated and understood throughout the growing organization? There is confusion, conflicting objectives, hidden agendas, autonomous management, lack of coordination, less cooperation, politics, a new culture may evolve, and silos emerge. How do we prevent this from happening? Simply, make sure the culture supports transparency and across the board communication. Culture of the core business is a key factor. Bringing about awareness of the core company’s vision and strategy as the company grows, making sure that every area aligns their objectives with those of the core business.  This has to be ongoing, as companies can get so caught up with the crazy busy aspect of rapid growth that the heart of the business gets lost in the shuffle and then the culture or organizational design becomes the root cause for the silos. When this happens, the new business units become separate entities from the core business. This is why you may see different cultures within the same company. Hence, silos are born. The silos prevent the company from effective communication and team cohesiveness across the board. Silos also increase the use of politics in an organization.

There can be silos across departments of a business. Many who read this might have had thoughts at one time or another in the workplace that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing because of the lack of communication. One cause of this is a lack of a company newsletter to communicate business news and changes within the organization. Another cause is a lack of cross-functional teams, which can be traced to culture. In the past, I have been part of HR, Production, and Quality departments, to name a few. In some instances, there were cross-functional teams and meetings across the departments, while other times there were only department teams and meetings. In the latter case, the silos were alive and kicking and the results were anything but effective. Silos are not only ineffective, but can cost companies many opportunities to improve. This translates into waste and loss of value. According to a Harvard Business School article, The Silo Lives! Analyzing Coordination and Communication in Multiunit Companies, “…most people tended to communicate with others in their own group or with peers….We were surprised by how little interaction occurs across three major boundaries: the strategic business unit, the organizational function, and the geographic office location.”

This may be a surprise to many, but there can be silos within departments. Let’s imagine this scenario: The department manager has aligned the department goals with the company’s vision and strategy. Although the manager has not had many informational meetings with her team, she has tried to communicate when she has the chance.  The culture does support transparency and communications. However, several team members seem to be confused concerning the team goals and what is going on within the department. There does not seem to be communication between the team members. The manager is at a loss as to the problem. She thought she was doing everything right, so what’s up? One of the causes could be ineffective communications, which might have created a silo within the department. We must make sure we clearly define the goals to our teams and that we take the time to communicate as much as we can using various methods such as team meetings, e-mails and meeting one on one with team members. We must also create a collaborative environment for our teams to communicate and work together, if the culture supports that type of environment. If not, culture can be deemed as the root cause and politics will increasingly become the norm. Providing specific feedback (preferably POSITIVE constructive feedback)  to our teams is a must, as well. How can we expect our teams to do their jobs effectively, if we do not provide appropriate feedback?  Positive communications can promote behavior change. If a manager is struggling, it might help to offer leadership development training, i.e., communications and team building training. This leader may need to be trained on how to facilitate effective meetings, as well. We cannot presume that all managers or leaders are great communicators, team builders and meeting facilitators. By developing our leaders, we may be able to reduce the number of silos in our departments, if the culture supports development.

Although this posting deals with several causes of silos and suggestions to eliminate those silos, each situation is different. There may be underlying factors in each case which may show a different root cause. An analysis can determine existence of silos and root causes. An action plan can then define path forward in selecting and implementing the best solutions to eliminate the silos. Communication is a key factor to running a successful business. We must make sure that communication silos do not prevent us from succeeding.

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD ~ Organizational Development Professional

Talent Management-Retention

My recent post on a Talent Management discussion board addressed the following:

How to retain your key people, without increasing the monetary rewards?  

My answer –

The current economic situation brings about an interesting dilemma for companies focusing on retention. The following paragraph is from an online article addressing retention and flexibility. I chose the source not only because of the discussion about flexibility, but because of the first 2 ½ sentences. Our mindset we developed over the last two years needs to change to deal with the improving job market or we will have a difficult time retaining key people.

“From what I’m seeing, we’ve turned a corner in the job market. Firms are publicly stating their intention to hire. And, the “Look, people are just lucky to have jobs,” mantra of the last two years has given way quickly to …..We need to offer workplace flexibility so we can attract and retain our people.” This is great news for me, but it’s dangerous for employers.”

Although monetary awards are important, they are not the end-all.  To retain employees, find out what their motivating factors are. For some great examples, read 10 Things Employees Want Most:

Some companies have hired employees the last two years who previously had more challenging roles with more responsibilities than those of the new positions. The past roles may have been eliminated due to economics. These folks may have taken a reduction in salary, as well. How do we retain employees without increasing monetary rewards? That depends on the direction of the current job market, the internal motivational factors of these employees, and the financial health and potential growth of our own companies. Can we afford not to take a look at our current salary structure to make sure we are aligned with the improving job market? Can we afford to lose our talented workforce to opportunities which might exceed our current salary plan? Can we offer non-monetary rewards to retain these employees or is that not enough? Many folks took on positions solely for the paycheck, due to lack of available jobs. Many are now leaving for opportunities which offer the higher salary and/or challenges once offered by past employment.

What strategies can we use to address retention? Relationship building, performance feedback, engagement, empowerment, challenging work opportunities, and a career direction plan offer results – just to name a few.  The culture of a company needs to support the efforts, as well. Building relationships should be a given for every company. If your leadership teams are not building relationships with the rest of your employees, it is time to have a talk with them. Same goes for the CEO/President-get to know your employees! Create collaborative environments for all levels of employees to interact with one another and with leadership. Create efficient performance feedback processes which accurately measure performance and gives opportunities for improvement. Utilize social media and other tools. Relationship building and performance feedback are extremely important for retention!

I believe every employee wants to add value. Matching the skill sets and aspirations with current work opportunities would be an answer for retention. For example, leadership skills of employees can be polished, regardless of current role, if managers were coached to find creative ways for employees to lead initiatives. Another example-instead of a manager always creating the informational PowerPoint and presenting the monthly report to c-level leadership, rotate the responsibility to those employees who want to get involved, regardless of their current role. I worked for a company where a Sr. Manager did this for her group. I coached some of her employees in presentation skills to prepare them. These employees were motivated to utilize/polish their skills. They were engaged and empowered.

Engaging people to help identify gaps in their skill set to create a career path can help retention. I implemented a global-wide Talent Management and Succession Plan to address core competencies of key people for business continuity. This created an opportunity to address retention of employees, as well. The skill set gaps were identified and addressed. Employee aspirations were also identified. Job descriptions/role profiles were reviewed for accuracy. In order to address retention, it is our responsibility to develop a plan which addresses career development.

In summary, there are many ways we can retain employees.  I included just a few suggestions in this posting. There are several non-monetary ways to address retention. It is our responsibility to make sure our culture is aligned to support these efforts. Companies are also facing retention challenges due to the current economic recovery. We must be open to explore our options. Can we afford small monetary rewards or offer higher salary? These are dilemmas facing some companies today. Many more companies will be facing these dilemmas tomorrow. Is your company ready?

March 2, 2011 update: A great article which aligns with my Talent Management post,  Are You Ready For War for Talent 2.0?

March 8, 2012 update: Another great article,  Low-Cost Ways To Show Employees They’re Highly Valued.

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD ~ Organizational Development Professional