Q&A between Steve Grady and Dr. Sherry Nooravi, Organization Effectiveness Consultant and Principal of Strategy Meets Performance, a firm that helps companies grow through their people.

Sherry-SteveSteve Grady: Hi Sherry, thanks for meeting with me. Let’s start with you sharing what does Organization Development/Effectiveness entail and how does it help companies?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: In a nutshell, OD is a process that helps organizations function more effectively through their people. It helps with creating more open communication systems, more collaborative leaders and work teams and ultimately, more effective organizations.

Steve Grady: Can you help me differentiate between OD and Human Resources (HR)?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: HR is an important function of any organization and helps with the strategic alignment of how employees are recruited, developed, rewarded and promoted. HR also ensures that the company is compliant with state and federal laws, diversity, etc. I believe that HR should be a strategic business partner at the table with the CEO and the heads of Finance, Marketing, IT, Operations, etc.
Organization Development is a strong collaboration partner with HR as well as with the other functions to ensure that the leadership capability and systems are on track throughout the organization and linked to the strategy. OD practitioners also partner with leaders of the different functions to determine solutions for such things as decreased productivity, low morale, low customer service, etc.

Steve Grady: What types of things do your clients need help with?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: Clients typically come to me with one of the following few scenarios:

  • There is some sort of pain in the organization, as I mentioned above, the pain can include things like decreased productivity, team conflict, poor quality in products or services  and decrease in the level of customer satisfaction
  • An organization has one or more high performers who are exhibiting ineffective behaviors that damages employee morale and overall long-term effectiveness
  • A company that has grown quickly needs the systems and structures to help it reach its prime
  • An organization wants to develop its next level of leaders to meet its future strategy

Steve Grady: When companies want to grow to the next level but don’t have the bench strength in terms of leadership capability, how can they develop and train their staff to be able to handle future growth and increased responsibility?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: Before developing the training programs, there are several things to consider:

  • Determine what your future strategy is (who will your customers be, how will your product/services be evolving, what will be changing in your environment) and then
  • Determine the skills that are needed to meet the current and future strategy
  • Collaborate with successful existing leaders who have excelled in your culture to see what additional development they wish they had on their way up and what they think leaders need
  • Connect development to your performance management system and succession planning
  • Last, make the development plan ongoing, realistic in terms of the time these leaders need to invest and connected to the organization’s leadership team

Steve Grady: Some of my clients tell me their staff is not functioning well. What things should they be looking at?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: Here are some things to consider:

  • Are their tasks clear and linked to the overall strategy?
  • Are your employees receiving regular feedback on their performance?
  • Do you have a culture where authentic and open communication is valued and welcomed?
  • Do you have meetings where people feel comfortable really saying what’s on their mind?

Steve Grady: Clients tell me they don’t like writing performance reviews, let alone, having the difficult discussions each year. What can they do to make it a more painless process?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: The honest answer is that if a supervisor wants to create a useful development plan for an employee, it does require an investment of time to examine how the employee has been doing, writing the review (and not just checking boxes) and having a meaningful dialogue with the person. The good news is that if the supervisor is meeting regularly with the employee and tracking progress on his/her goals and giving feedback throughout the year (all which is documented), the end of the year performance review will go much smoother, faster and will have no unnecessary surprises.

Steve Grady: My clients tell me about high-functioning executives on their team who are good at their jobs, but not as skilled on the people side. What kind of development do you recommend for them and can they change?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: For these scenarios, I recommend coaching using feedback from peers, direct reports, supervisors, vendors, etc who work closely with the client. My clients have experienced positive change using this process.

Steve Grady: How do you measure the results of your work?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi:  Some things can be measurable such as increase in customer satisfaction, increase in production, decrease in employee turnover, increase in employee engagement and motivation (which links to higher customer service). Some things are just as valuable, just not as tangible. For example, a leader who through coaching, changes his or her paradigm from thinking employees just need to do what they are told…to being open to their feedback. This openness often results in more sharing of issues from employees, which can result in cost savings, problem-solving and ways to increase production.

Steve Grady: Thank you for your time. Would you be interesting in writing for us every so often?

Dr. Sherry Nooravi: Of course! Thank you and I hope your readers feel free to write with any questions or challenges they have.

Dr. Sherry Nooravi is the Principal of Strategy Meets Performance; a firm that helps companies grow through their people. Solutions include but are not limited to executive coaching, employee development, teambuilding and corporate communications. She can be reached at sherry@strategymeetsperformance.com, 312.286.0325 and online at www.strategymeetsperformance.com.

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