Psychologues Consultants Y2

Rather not know what's really going on in your workplace? I don't blame you!

Do you know if things are working well (or not) in your workplace? Are employees happy and engaged in their work environment or is there conflict and dissatisfaction? Are you aware of issues or concerns causing problems in your team/organization? Are you interested in doing something to determine the health of your organization and to resolve any problems that might exist?

The answers to all these questions may be simpler than you think and a workplace assessment may be the next logical next step for you to undertake with the help of professionals in the field. Many managers – both in the public and private sectors – are hesitant to commit to workplace assessments because they may learn things about their organizations that they don't know or may not want to know (e.g. sleeping dogs). Then, again, they might find out that any problems they uncover were inherited from their predecessor(s).

But once you have the results, chances are you'll have to do something about them.

However, it has been shown that assessments undertaken by trained professionals are likely to lead to a strengthened organizational climate and improved employee engagement and performance.

Weak organizational structures, stressful work climates, ineffective leadership and communication processes, inadequate employment policies, meagre supervision, and managerial apathy all impact negatively on the climate in the workplace. And they appear to be increasingly more common.

In many organizations the picture is bleak, high turnover is typical in many units within government departments and agencies and employee dissatisfaction appears to be on the rise. Some of the other signs that all is not well in the workplace include:

  • High rates of sick leave
  • High rates of stress/burnout
  • High grievance/formal complaint rates
  • Low employee engagement

There are different types of organizational assessments, also know as workplace assessments. Some are simple in form and may seek employee feedback on workplace satisfaction or stressors using an online survey sent to a small team/unit or to the entire organization. Others are more comprehensive and may seek employee feedback on several organizational elements (e.g. work climate, culture, workload, well-being, organizational stress/burnout, turnover, professional development and training, and team dynamics)

There are different types of consultants undertaking such assessments from various backgrounds and with varying degrees of expertise (e.g. HRM consultants, generalists in survey design). Given how most individuals spend much of their day at work and identify with their jobs, for many the organizational assessment can be sensitive and emotional, especially if the work climate is tense or not functioning optimally. The assessment needs to be professionally planned and survey/interview questions expertly selected. There must be a commitment from the organization to act on the results and to protect employees who may need further support (e.g. an employee who has been harassed in the workplace may need someone to talk to a trained professional after such an assessment).

Consulting psychologists have a developed set of skills that make them ideal for such assessments (i.e. collecting information that is emotionally charged, gaining trust and reassuring employees that all will remain confidential and anonymous, and assessing the general well-being of employees and the organisation). Psychologists also provide well-balanced recommendations which are not just focused on what the organization needs to do but on what each member needs to do – placing the onus on all to succeed. Many have referred to such workplace assessments as organizational health diagnostics since they place a heavier emphasis on assessing the well-being of the employees and organizations and are conducted by consulting psychologists who are experts in the field of well-being and measurement.

High performance organizations are likely to have cultures/workplaces that are dynamic or adaptive, yet highly consistent and predictable, and that foster high involvement and a sense of mission. Are you prepared to turn your organization into one of the high performers, if it's not already?

Still interested? Attached are three cases which were conducted by experts in the field.

Case study 1. Workplace Assessment: A Proactive Initiative of a Federal Agency

What brought the client to request a workplace assessment?

MeetingIn this case, there were concerns about high turnover and potential dissatisfaction but this was essentially a proactive initiative. The Director General was new to the government unit which had a long history of heavy workload and demands (e.g. frequent urgent requests) and wanted to learn more about the organizational climate and culture she was inheriting.

Y2CP's Solution:

The proposed approach was intended to help the DG resolve the following issues: retention (human resource management), work-life balance, respect in the workplace, teambuilding and pride, and management competencies and coaching.

Over a 25-day period, Y2CP undertook the following steps in their assessment:

Step 1: involved meeting with key players in the unit in order to gather information to fully understand the situation and objectives; reviewing documentation associated with the organizational review process; assessing employee wellness indicators known to be related to satisfaction and productivity; developing a questionnaire to be used for an employee survey; and explaining the rationale for the workplace assessment.

Step 2: revolved around customizing and conducting an on-line survey with all employees. Y2CP uses well-validated online solutions when appropriate – e.g. the Denison Culture Survey – and adapts them to the specific needs of the organizational unit to reduce costs. These also allow the unit to be compared to the norms in other public and private sector organizations.

Step 3: included the analysis of the data from the survey and drafting a report to the DG (including a factual summary and recommendations).

Based on report results, recommendations for intervention were also outlined – HR activities and actions (e.g. training for employees/management), operational/process based changes (e.g. an organizational change plan), and communications measures, etc.

The client indicated that she was very satisfied with the assessment, the results, and the quick turnaround.

Case study 2. Organizational Health Assessment of a Federal Department

What led the client to request an organizational health assessment?

TeamIn this case, there was a serious problem in the organization, with high turnover, dissatisfaction, stress, and several ethical and values issues (e.g. harassment, abuse of power).

Branch senior management had been made aware of several important problems through several sources in the department. The help of Y2CP's psychologists and HR specialists was needed to identify the magnitude of the issues affecting the unit and to provide advice/solutions to senior management on how to manage the required changes in the most appropriate fashion. The request was urgent.

Y2CP's Solution:

Given the number and sensitivity of the issues that had been brought to the attention of senior management – it was important that trained psychologists conduct the interviews since the problems were distressing and emotionally painful for many.

The following steps were undertaken in a three month timeframe.

Step 1: Following an initial mini assessment with branch managers to help develop potential interview questions, Y2CP's organizational assessment consultants undertook a workplace assessment and recommended a course of action.

Step 2: Y2CP's consultants implemented the workplace intervention. This step involved a number of activities including conducting the face-to-face interviews with staff. Within a week, several Y2CP psychologists completed interviewing almost 100 staff members.

Step 3: Y2CP's consultants analyzed all collected information and drafted a report for the ADM. Based on the observed results, recommendations for intervention (e.g. advice on implementing organizational improvements/changes) were made.

Senior management was advised how to manage several issues in the workplace such as psychological harassment, discrimination, disciplinary measures, fairness and transparency in HRM, organisational restructuring, dispute resolution, and remedial action planning.

As well, coaching/mentoring, psychological follow up and team workshops were offered to the client. All the work was completed in record time and follow ups were done three and six months later. As a result, the organizational health was improved significantly.

Client feedback:

"Our office had engaged the organizational development services of Y2 Consulting Psychologists. The work was conducted with rigour, while at the same time, respecting the needs of individuals. Dr. Yaniv Benzimra and his team of professionals provided high caliber support and advice to the senior managers, which in turn, formed the basis of the directions taken toward resolution of the situation."

Case study 3. Assessment of a Dysfunctional Government Unit/Team

What prompted the client to request an organizational health assessment?

Employee in needIn this case, there was a real problem with a dysfunctional team in a small government tribunal. Y2CP was engaged to diagnose the employee relations and organizational problem in the team which had been going on for some time. Our consulting psychologists were also asked to develop a strategy on how to tackle it and to bring the team back towards optimal performance, in addition to identifying the organisational factors that contributed to a series of problems within this work unit in the first place.

When team dynamics are really "bad" and the team becomes dysfunctional, it is important to consult experts in the matter. Psychologists are trained in conflict resolution and can deal with the psychological impacts and dynamics in play. Y2's psychologists have at their disposal over 150 psychometric tools to assess team dynamic and work styles issues.

Y2CP's Solution:

Over a four months period, several steps were taken to address the issue. Y2CP first conducted a mini-workplace assessment focusing on the troubled team in order to better understand the problems at hand, assess the organisational factors and HR factors contributing to the current dysfunctional situation, and assess whether the organisation was willing and capable of making the appropriate required changes to improve the current situation.

Did you know?

A recent Psychometrics study on conflict in the Canadian workplace found that, the most common causes of conflict are warring egos and personality clashes (86%), poor leadership (73%), lack of honesty (67%), stress (64%), and clashing values (59%).

Once a better understanding of the problem was arrived at, and to ensure all organizational (internal) stakeholders were committed to moving forward on the project, Y2CP assigned two experts in team dynamics to conduct a series of one-on-one meetings with team members as well as a series of team focus group meetings to get different perspectives on the problems within the group and look for the potential solutions. Y2CP then presented the findings, as well as an action plan, to senior management.

Wellness coaching was undertaken and, for those who needed it, more specific psychological counselling was provided.

Y2CP also recommended means to identify, analyze, plan, track and control progress on a continuous basis. A series of organisational development assessments tools and methodologies were used in the assessment and intervention phases.

Again, the client was very satisfied with the assessment and the results of the intervention. Follow up feedback from employees and management was very positive six months later.

Dr. Yaniv Benzimra, Consulting Psychologist
Dr. Yannick Mailloux, Consulting Psychologist
L.Long, HRM Consultant
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

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