In difficult times it can be hard for leaders not to lapse into negative and challenging management styles. This often leads to a reduction in motivation and initiative amongst staff. A culture of avoidance prevails, leading to poor service delivery. We have developed an Organisational Behaviour Audit (OBA) to address these issues.
OBA is designed to explore challenging behaviours and perceptions and to map actual occurrences of those behaviours. It is a completely anonymous online survey tool which encourages frank and honest responses. It guides respondents towards sensitive items on the basis of their answers to initial questions – so individuals who have no real issues are not exposed to potentially negative perceptions.
OBA captures information regarding; personal harassment, work related and managerial harassment and intimidation. It also assesses overall organisational climate and stress levels in addition to individual personality factors of respondents.
Following completion a comprehensive report is created along with recommendations for positive action. The report shows perceptions of behaviour in comparison to actual levels. Findings can then be explored further in focus groups and positive interventions are designed to address the issues identified. This can involve cognitive behaviour coaching and group development workshops.
Case Study: OBA used within the NHS
Impact Consulting have recently used OBA within the NHS. OBA was used to perform an assessment of the culture following claims of bullying in the workplace leading to reduced morale and a reduction in performance. The frequency of work related stress, grievances and disciplinaries had increased within the organisation and bullying had been mentioned as a potential issue.
All staff were emailed links to the online survey whilst being assured of confidentiality and the impartiality of Impact Consulting’s role in the process. Response rates were high at 70%. We found that the levels of concern were actually lower than first anticipated. Although some individuals reported negative experiences and high levels of emotional distress, the majority did not share these concerns. A sub-culture of negativity was identified. It was clear that tough management styles were being used to deal with this behaviour and the organisation was experiencing both ‘upward bullying’ from staff and ‘downward bullying’ from senior levels.
Our recommendations included coaching of a small number of key staff, increasing self awareness and developing a less transactional management style. We also created targeted staff development workshops, addressing both interpersonal skills and performance issues.
Survey outcomes were fed back to all staff, without identifying individuals, along with an outline of the planned intervention. Staff responses were positive as this process helped to defuse tension within the organisation. The healing process is still ongoing. The organisation has taken the crucial first step in shifting from a downward negative spiral of increasing stress and resentment into a positive spiral of increasing awareness and individual responsibility.