What is a workplace review and how do you know you need one?

Angela Seach
November 13, 2019

A couple of pieces of recent research caught our attention here at Worklogic:

HRM reported on some recently published research which found that most people would do just about anything (including leave their job) rather than have difficult conversations at work. A majority of the 500 USA based research participants reported having avoided an issue or a person for at least 6 months (and in some cases more than 2 years), and that nearly 50% of participants considered leaving (37%) or did leave their job (11%) to avoid having to deal with a difficult issue.

It’s an easy shot to blame front line and middle managers for poor morale, high turnover and stifled innovation. But the second piece of research that caught our eye, from Harvard Business Review, found that there are structural reasons why managers don’t encourage their staff to voice ideas, or raise problems, when it would be beneficial to them and their organisations.

They found that managers face two distinct hurdles: They are not empowered to act on input from below, and their reward systems mean they feel compelled to adopt a short-term outlook to work.

Combine these research outcomes with “the ice berg of ignorance”, and we have a difficult situation in which employees know what the problems are, but would rather not raise them, and while supervisors and middle managers have a greater visibility on problems than senior executives, they often do not feel authorised to address the issues and end up simply doing whatever it takes to just get through the week or the month.

My colleague Grevis Beard recently wrote about our own research on the 12 dysfunctions of a team, including things like gossip culture, unprofessional conduct, poor management style and unhealthy competition. I imagine it was read by many with a knowing nod and a knot of frustration in the forehead.

Not only do these problems make for unhappy teams, they cost – either directly through things like poor customer service or high turnover, or indirectly through ineffective or inefficient systems and processes.

The people who know what the problems are, won’t or can’t speak up, and those with the power to address the problems don’t know they exist.

What to do when things are not quite right?

So, what do you do, when you know there is a problem, but you’re not sure what it is? You don’t have anything formal to act on, but you have a sense that things are “NQR” (ie not quite right).

There are a few options:

  1. Run an employee opinion survey? Meh – they take too long and can be prone to bias or non-completion.
  2. Set up a suggestion box? How very 1980s.
  3. Produce your own workplace version of “Gogglebox” or “Undercover Boss”? Interesting, but not very feasible.

Conduct a Workplace Review? Tell me more, I hear you say.

What is a workplace review?

A workplace review is an independent, qualitative and quantitative research project with employees, leaders and sometimes stakeholders or customers, to constructively and proactively explore and understand workplace problems, risks and opportunities to improve morale, efficiency, functioning and ethics of a team. It is an opportunity for team members to provide feedback based on their perceptions.

The ultimate goal of a workplace review is to identify practical interventions you can take, to make real improvements.

Worklogic’s approach to conducting a review:

  • We start by understanding your areas of focus. We are commonly asked to explore the employees’ experiences of supervision, organisational purpose, accountability, recognition, teamwork, trust, communication, leadership and culture.
  • Our consultants interview your staff (and sometimes selected stakeholders) and give them the opportunity to provide their perspectives and experiences in the workplace.
  • The information obtained from this process provides an accurate insight into the employees’ experience of the workplace, and what is stopping them from performing at their best.
  • Where relevant, our consultants also review your HR statistics, incident reports and policies.
  • We then provide independent, practical and actionable advice about the steps you can take to improve workplace culture, reduce risk, and improve productivity and compliance.

Worklogic is independent, perceptive and practical. We find out what is really going on, and show you how to address problems, minimise risks and improve everyone’s experience of the workplace. This is why clients trust us with this important work.

About Angela Seach

Angela Seach is an experienced workplace coach, and brings substantial experience across the full spectrum of strategic and operational people and culture management functions in public and private sector organisations to Worklogic. 

Prior to joining Worklogic, Angela was an accomplished senior organisational development manager with a significant track record in successfully driving outcomes in large, complex and geographically dispersed organisations, including the Country Fire Authority, Ansett Australia and Air New Zealand Engineering Services.

If you’d like to discuss how coaching could help your new leaders thrive, get in touch with Angela.

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