Fixing the “Soft Stuff” – Driving Organizational Effectiveness and Performance

Many senior leaders focus much of their attention and that of their organization on the “hard” issues, the things they can easily measure and that are clear direct or indirect measures of the bottom line. “Hard” issues include financials, staff levels and turnover rates, inventory levels and turnover, sales data, customer acquisition and retention rates, etc.

Senior leaders often fail to identify, measure and deal with many of the “soft” issues, the things that drive holistic organizational effectiveness and the bottom line. “Soft” issues include the experiences, perceptions, attitudes, opinions and behavior of employees, customers and other groups (suppliers, community, legislators, regulators, etc.).  When “soft” issues are taken into consideration, it is often done by guessing at what employees and customers are experiencing and thinking rather than by measuring their perceptions and opinions. Even in cases where “soft” issue measurement is done, the results are often ignored or avoided, especially when the results are negative.

The Holistic Organizational Effectiveness Survey (HOE survey) focuses on a broad set of “soft” issues (97 questions in all) that drive holistic organizational effectiveness and organizational performance. Executing well on the “soft” issues enables leaders and their organizations to achieve their desired outcomes.

Illustrative HOE Survey “Soft” Issues

Following are a few of the “Soft” issues assessed in the survey, including the overall average rating for all people answering each question. The rating scale is 5 = Effective and 1 = Ineffective. The aggregate overall average ratings indicate that most organizations need to do a much better job of dealing with the “soft” issues.

  • 3.37 – Identifying, Adopting and Integrating New Technologies for Competitive Advantage       
  • 3.37 – Achieving a High Level of Trust and Respect between Senior Leadership and Employees                                                                                                                             
  • 3.33 – Developing and Retaining Leadership Talent                                 
  • 3.48 – Building Strong Sales Culture and Aligning the Organization to Support Sales Growth and Excellence                                                                                                         
  • 3.43 – Eliminating Fear and Discrimination throughout the Organization   
  • 3.06 – Managing and Constructively Resolving Conflict                          
  • 2.74 – Eliminating Organizational Silos and Internal Politics as Barriers to Organizational Effectiveness                                                                                                    
  • 3.46 – Matching the Right People to the Right Positions                          
  • 2.65 – Identifying and Dealing with Low-Performing Managers and Employees   
  • 3.17 – Implementing Employee and Customer Friendly Business Processes to Enable Efficient/Effective Transactions                                                                               
  • 3.17 – Assessing IT Customer Satisfaction to Ensure IT Effectiveness and Employee Performance Using Technology                                                                                                      

How Well are “Soft” Issues Addressed in Your Organization?

Key questions regarding Holistic Organizational Effectiveness and your organization:

  1. How many of the “soft” issues included in the HOE survey are measured in your organization?
  2. What are your organization’s HOE gaps (the difference between current and optimal effectiveness for each of the questions/issues included in the survey)?
  3. What can your organization do to achieve HOE?
  4. Who should lead your organization’s HOE process?
  5. How much more effective would your organization be in terms of achieving your desired outcomes if your leadership team addresses organizational effectiveness holistically for the long-term?

Information about employee surveys / employee  engagement surveys

About Howard Deutsch

Howard Deutsch is the CEO of Quantisoft, a New Jersey based full-service survey company conducting employee, organizational effectiveness, leadership feedback, customer satisfaction, IT customer satisfaction, enterprise risk and other types of customized surveys since 1999. Howard has extensive senior line management, internal and external consulting experience in many industries. He has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA in Finance from St. John's University. He was an adjunct faculty member for several years at the Seton Hall University School of Business.
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