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  • Writer's pictureMichael Soderling

Organisational Development: Any resemblance with your workplace?

My mission was to help a department in the municipal sector becoming even more well-functioning.


I use the word “even” since solid data showed that this department already operated efficiently. Still, the department head felt there was an untapped potential.


What we did. We gathered the 70 employees for a day. Providing context for the participants, the department head began the workshop by describing the department's development plan. Then, employees from different teams were asked to interview one another about their daily work. My instruction to the participants was to base the interviews on an important premise: If an organisation doesn't reach its full potential, it's not due to lack of motivation or commitment amongst the organisation’s people. It's due to various restraining factors, such as knowing too little about one other. Lacking insight into what colleagues in other teams are doing, what goals they're striving for, what their roles and responsibilities are, all leads to the risk of duplication of work or responsibilities being left unattended. There's also a risk of insufficient communication and coordination between teams.


Following the interviews, the participants in small groups were asked to discuss three topics in turns: As a public sector organisation, the citizens’ perspective obviously was an important topic. The other two topics were organisational structure and organisational culture. Between rounds, participants were asked to rearrange themselves into new small groups. By mixing professions, team affiliations, as well as mixing managers and specialists, we increased the likelihood of all different perspectives being considered. We also established a feedback process ensuring that the management team gained insight into all the reflections and ideas that emerged.


Outcome. Even though this department fundamentally was functioning well, it became evident that certain aspects of the culture were less than optimal. The bulleted list of insights and issues below reflects some of the areas for improvement that were identified. Feel free to consider to what extent there is a resemblance with your workplace.


  • We can inquire why we are invited to a certain meeting and what we are expected to contribute.

  • Meeting invitations should always contain purposes and agendas.

  • We can schedule shorter meetings instead of habitually scheduling longer ones.

  • Regarding emails, we can consider whether we need to copy multiple recipients and whether we need to reply to everyone copied in.

  • We should encourage increased awareness by inviting colleagues from other teams to talk about their workday and what their roles entail.

  • We can improve giving and receiving feedback


Moreover, in a conversation some time after the workshop, the department head mentioned to me that she had noticed initiatives being taken more frequently and that team spirit had improved. Staff had commented on how important it was not only on a personal level to get to know each other across departmental boundaries, but also to gain insight into what colleagues do. Staff competencies had become more visible and were being utilised more extensively. Staff continued to be curious about each other, and a need for more interaction was expressed.


If the contents of this review have any resemblance with your workplace and if you feel energised by reading it: What would you in your managerial role like to do?


The clients who reach out to me are managing directors, management teams, and executives who want to realise the potential in their organisations and accomplish extraordinary results. They reach out to me because of my ability to transform individuals, teams, and organisations.

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