With growing studies and bodies of work dedicated to proving the difference organizational health makes in success, you've probably heard that this is not something business leaders can ignore. You may have read books and even feel personally convicted that your company needs to work towards a high level of organizational health. But how can you know if your organization is healthy? What are the right areas to target for greater long-term sustainability and agility?

A Guide to Implementing Organizational Health

Many senior leaders, executives, and CEOs agree with the concept of organizational health but find themselves stalled out after their attempts to improve it don't show "results" and other more urgent matters push it aside. It's been proven time and time again as we talk with leaders about this that it's in the implementation of these concepts that things fall apart, and this is why we created the OrgHealth Ascent Model and Assessment.

What the senior leadership team needs in order to implement organizational health in their own team and throughout the organization is really three things, plus one very important bonus element:

  1. Model: The clear, shared picture of what "healthy" looks like—specific but not complex.
  2. Language: Simple terminology the whole team can rally around as specific goals are defined and discussed.
  3. Mechanism: A simple, repeatable method of gathering accurate information for benchmarking and progress tracking and continued insights.

The final necessary element? Unbiased, real feedback.

At a base level, this means getting the full and transparent input of your whole leadership team on the matters at hand. But the massive acceleration comes when an experienced, outside coach comes alongside your leadership team to challenge areas no one is prepared to address, open communication between people who may not be understanding each other, and do the integral work of illuminating blind spots that have been holding your organization back.

The OrgHealth Ascent Model with four colourful triangles within one large triangle

The OrgHealth Ascent Model: Defining What a Healthy Organization Looks Like

The model, the language, and the mechanism (the three things you'll need to implement organizational health effectively) have all been built into the OrgHealth Ascent Model and Assessment. We've simplified the organizational health definition down to four areas: a collaborative culture, hinging on leadership accountability, propelled by strategic momentum, producing talent magnetism.

The OrgHealth Ascent Model acts as an organizational health dashboard, showing the four main elements organizational health is made of. Pair with it the OrgHealth Ascent Assessment, which makes it simple to administrate, gather, and track data for you, generating an insightful report so you can target the right goals.

There are lots of assessment tools that target communication styles or emotional intelligence or other specific areas. Those can be helpful, but they should be used under the umbrella of where your senior leadership and organization actually have the most pressing need. The OrgHealth Ascent helps you identify your real needs, so you don't waste energy patching holes while the root of the issue remains unaddressed. Use it gain crucial insight into what to prioritize in your efforts towards organizational improvement.

There are four simple metrics that cover the whole of organizational health.

Black business man talking with co-worker with pink triangle from OrgHealth Ascent Model to the right

#1: Collaborative Culture

Collaborative Culture measures the trust built, if values are being lived out, and whether or not the vital information is flowing both vertically and horizontally throughout the company. In the model, collaborative culture is the center hub, because it has the greatest overall effect on every single area of your company's health.

How to raise collaborative culture:

  • Listen with curiosity.
  • Talk less—but ask more questions.
  • Live your values consistently.
  • Offer other departments your own team's time and resources to solve problems.
  • Create feedback loops about workplace culture and show that action is being taken.
  • Challenge your assumptions about your team members.

Senior business man thinking in front of laptop

#2: Leadership Accountability

The executive team is not only responsible to model personal ownership but is also responsible for the impact their behavior has on the rest of the company. The sad reality is that countless companies stagnate in their growth because the leaders outsource their real responsibilities.

Leadership Accountability is about far more than showing up to meetings on time, getting the numbers in, and getting an annual performance review. It means that the further up the ladder of authority you go, the more your actual responsibility is to intentionally create a healthy environment for the people underneath you—one of open communication, clarity, energized progress, and innovation.

From salespeople, to accountants, to engineers, and machine operators, everyone's ability to contribute to the company's success is limited by how much the leadership team will personally embrace continuous improvement, and how much the company can observe these changes.  

How to raise Leadership Accountability:

  • Get aggressive about discovering your own blind spots.
  • Dispell artificial harmony.
  • Invite stakeholders into your growth process.
  • Ensure every leadership team member has a clear picture of company's values and highest priorities.
  • Challenge your peers.
  • Don't argue with the feedback you get.

diverse business team making strategic decision with notes and green triangle from OrgHealth Ascent Model to the right

#3: Strategic Momentum

A healthy organization develops momentum by setting and reaching its goals together, without becoming stuck or rigid in their way of doing things. From strategic planning to crisis management, a healthy organization is resilient not out of stubbornness, but due to the creative solutions that emerge when people love their job and voluntarily step up to challenges as they arise.

How to raise Strategic Momentum:

  • Communicate your strategic planning clearly through all levels of the organization, and check back in often.
  • Ensure your workplace culture encourages concerns and ideas being raised.
  • Create feedback loops and ensure follow-up action is taken.
  • Set goals that are the right mix of "achievable" and "stretching".
  • Ensure you have metrics in place to track goal progress.

Hiring young asian female professional with yellow triangle from OrgHealth Ascent Model to the right

#4: Talent Magnetism

A healthy company culture, strong growth, and responsible leaders draw in high performers. Establishing processes internally to ensure that the company hires those who embody company values will be key for long-term success.

The team members about to walk out of your door can give you some of the most valuable feedback about where you need to improve health. And people will flock to your door for temporary media buzz or attractive salary packages, but they won't stay for those reasons.

Talent Magnetism is something of a litmus-test of organizational health. Sometimes it may be very high, but watch how it trends over several years to see how healthy your company is. The trends here should never be ignored in your business development and health strategy.

How to raise Talent Magnetism:

  • Invest in company culture by finding out how your people are wired and what would be meaningful to them.
  • Identify the values you need to hire for.
  • Improve your collaborative culture, leadership accountability, and strategic momentum. The dividends will show up in your talent attraction and retention.

A Basic Organizational Health Checklist

With the right starting point, your organization can direct its business development in a way that raises organizational health while gaining momentum towards your strategic goals. How to begin? Use this organizational health checklist.

  • Define the end-goal of organizational health. We suggest bringing the OrgHealth Ascent Model to your executive team and tying your strategies and values to each of the four areas it outlines.
  • Set-up your metrics and mechanisms for measuring organizational health. We suggest using the OrgHealth Ascent Assessment to automate much of the busywork of the assessment process.
    Collaborative Culture: How well is your leadership team embracing, modeling, and cascading this throughout the company? Discuss where you need to improve.
    Leadership Accountability:
    Get stakeholders involved in providing real feedback to each leader about how their behaviour is impacting the company for better or worse. Consider executive coaching.
    Strategic Momentum:
    Lack of clarity destroys momentum faster than almost anything else.
    Talent Magnetism: What are your company's trends in talent attraction and retention?
  • Agree to an evaluation schedule to measure progress and assess new goals. Health requires continuous improvement.

Organizational health is a critical piece of business development that does not happen by accident. Nor should it be expected to spring out of the good intentions of leaders who are trying their best. The greatest step you can take as a senior leadership team is to commit to implementation, and bring the concept of organizational health into the very real contexts of your own team, your own company, and your own goals. Gain the confidence that comes from making the invisible visible.

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