Bullseye! An Example of Hitting the Target

We are concluding our three-part series on targeted assessments with a case study, just to prove to you that this approach truly does work.

Case Study: Organizational Climate as a Change Management Technique

Three years ago, SMD was contacted by a company interested in a targeted assessment focused on measuring the strength of employees’ identification and agreement with the organization’s core values.

This targeted assessment was designed to serve three main goals:

  1. A Value Baseline – The company was interested in gaining an understanding of the strength of employee identification with the organizational values to make comparisons on how these values may change in the future.
  2. Understanding Turnover – The company expressed a concern over attrition and wanted to gain clarity around the reasons why to prevent future turnover.
  3. Living the Values – Finally, the organization wanted to promote their values, internally as well as externally, to help attract, hire, reward, and retain talent that ‘fit’ with their organizational values.

Step One: Targeted Assessment of Organizational Culture

To help the company meet these goals, SMD crafted and validated a targeted assessment of the organization’s culture that captured its specific values, and launched an annual stand-alone survey for the last three years. Year one results served as the baseline. Scores were generally low, yet strong in agreement (clustered around 2’s and 3’s on a five-point scale). The clustering meant that employees were in agreement that the organization was not living its core values. Using this, organizational leaders set goals, made action plans, and enacted processes designed to increase value perceptions.

Step Two: Competency Model of Leadership Levels

Following the results of the targeted culture assessment, SMD built a competency model fo­cused on leadership levels to identify which behaviors made up each core value. From there, SMD rolled out a customized selection assessment that measured candidates on values that were found to drive on-the-job performance. SMD also developed a performance appraisal tool that managers used to rate their direct reports on the identified value behaviors most closely linked to performance.

Organizational Values Increase

The result? Efforts paid off. Year two results showed a signifi­cant increase in all organizational values, across all departments and organizational levels, and decreased turnover intent.

Between the second and third years, the organization went through an acquisition and a resulting massive restructuring impacting all offices, departments, and teams. Generally with large-scale organizational change, there is an adjustment period that follows where any employee assessment is greatly, and negatively, impacted due to employees harboring higher than normal negative attitudes about the change. These attitudes can stem from lack of buy-in, resistance, sorrow (for terminated employees), or even just because change can mean an adjustment for many people. Despite this, employee ratings of the organizational values still increased. Specifically, from year one to three there was a 28% to 51% increase in agreement, depending on value. Year three (similar to Year one) had a strong climate, but unlike Year one, climate was positive and strong with most responses clustering around 4 on a five-point scale. Turnover intent and com­mitment to the organization, two variables that are normally greatly impacted by a large organizational change, actually showed positive gains – those saying they would not leave the company increased from 42% to 54%, while those saying they would decreased from 24% to 19%. Commitment to the company went up from 56% to 84%, while those not com­mitted decreased from 17% to 4%. Not everything in the survey turned out to be positive however. The items designed to assess how employees felt about the organizational change were almost evenly dispensed on the rating scale (e.g., clustered around 1’s on the low end and 5’s on the high end), indicating a lack of agreement.

The bottom line? This organization was able to maintain positive attitudes as well as decrease turnover intent during a time of large-scale organizational change. A successful outcome (the bullseye) was as easy as identifying an issue, investing in targeted assessments, and taking action based on the results to build a strong, positive climate around the organization’s values.

To learn more about how you may leverage targeted assessments in your organization, view our white paper “Missing the Mark with your Approach to Organizational Issues? Hit the Bullseye with Targeted Assessments” or contact us at

Ready, Aim, Target…and Measure

In last month’s post, we gave you a pop quiz. Did you learn that you needed to conduct a targeted assessment? If so, you’re in luck as we are continuing our three-part blog series on targeted assessments. This post is dedicated to identifying when and how to conduct one and then how to be sure you demonstrate ROI. Don’t miss that step!

Ready, Aim, Target. Identifying When and How

Two approaches can be taken when considering a targeted assessment – as an add-on to an annual employee survey or as a standalone assessment. Deciding between the two comes down to timing and content.

A targeted assessment can be administered during the annual employee survey as long as the timing aligns with the needs around the targeted assessment issue. If you have specific issues that need to be assessed, conducting a slightly longer annual survey can save you time and money instead of conducting two separate assessments. Many organizations have over-surveyed their employees in the past and integrating multiple surveys into one survey event can be advantageous. If this is the case, adding targeted items to the annual event can provide significant value.

Conversely, if the annual survey is not coming in the near-term, or if the targeted issue requires a longer assessment, a standalone assessment can be conducted. There are a couple of advantages to conducting a standalone assessment.

  • For one, you can comfortably ask more questions on the targeted assessment because you aren’t trying to limit the number of items for an add-on section to an annual employee survey. In this way, you can take a deep dive into the issue at hand.
  • Additionally, with a standalone assessment, the employees will be focused in on the pertinent issue and will not have to shift their attention back and forth between general broad survey topics and the specific issues of concern.
  • Lastly, having a separate standalone survey allows for an opportunity to brand the survey to show management’s commitment to spreading awareness of the change or issue and to show that management cares about the employees’ perspective on the topic.

Keeping Score: How to Demonstrate ROI

An important consideration whenever a targeted assessment is conducted is how to connect it to the bottom line. If an organization invests in targeted assessments and commits to taking action on the results, there must be a demonstration of the benefits and cost savings that result from the investment. In order to do so, a few simple steps need to be integrated into the process.

#1: Pre-assessment measures of the business outcomes that are relevant to the issue at hand should be collected. For example, if the problem indicators are things such as reduced productivity, increases in absenteeism or turnover, the current data of these outcomes should be collected for comparison purposes after the assessments and subsequent action planning takes place.

#2: Once the assessment data has been collected, it should be linked together with the outcome data so that linkage analyses can be conducted to determine which factors from the assessment are the strongest drivers of these outcomes. By honing in on the most critical factors, tailored action planning can begin that will enable leaders at all levels to understand and focus in on the aspects that matter most for improving the business outcomes.

#3: Finally, after the assessment has been conducted, linkage analysis is completed, and leaders have had sufficient time to take action, the organization once again revisits the critical business outcomes. From there, the organization can determine the extent to which it was able to positively impact those outcomes, thus determining the ROI.

Next time we’ll show you all of this in action with a case study. If you’re interested in learning more about targeted assessments, you may download our white paper or contact us at

Missing the Mark with Your Approach to Organizational & Workforce Issues? Hit the Bullseye with Targeted Assessments

At some point, your organization will face acute workforce issues that could benefit from targeted assessments and subsequent actions. Although conducting a targeted assessment may at first seem like one more initiative that will take up valuable resources, the risk of not addressing acute organizational issues can be much more costly. Consider the following scenario that illustrates this point before you dismiss the need for your company to utilize this approach.

A company is preparing to undergo a large-scale change — a reorganization. Without evaluating how well the change has been communicated to employees, the level of pre-change buy-in the company has from employees, and the level of willingness among employees to endure the change, the organization would be taking a huge risk. What type of risk you may ask? By potentially mismanaging the change and not fully understanding or addressing the employee perspective, the organization risks low morale and productivity, high levels of turnover, lack of commitment from employees regarding any change initiatives, and damage to the company reputation. Moreover, all of these things ultimately take a toll on the bottom line. You care about the bottom line, right?

This post is the first in a three-part series on targeted assessments. The subsequent posts will discuss how to demonstrate ROI with targeted assessments; explain when and how to conduct targeted assessments; and provide examples and case studies.

Pop Quiz – Do You Need a Targeted Assessment?

There are three main reasons your organization may want to use a targeted assessment: (1) timing, (2) problem, or (3) identity. The first step is admitting you have an issue. To see if you do, review the questions below; if your answer is “yes,” you’ll want to read on.

Timing: Making Changes?

  • Are you experimenting with flat hierarchies, cross-functional structures, and virtual teams to try to adapt to changes more quickly and better than your competition?
  • Are you downsizing to allow for greater decision making in lower rungs of the organizational ladder, to allow for agility and faster decision making capability?
  • Are you acquiring small but savvy start-ups rather than wasting time to build out the capabilities in-house?
  • Are you merging to gain names and talent to then downsize the low performers from either company?

These and other changes are notorious for leading to massive problems down the road for organizations, if they aren’t properly managed from an employee perspective. Targeted assessments provide the necessary information leaders need to fully grasp the employee perspective and incorporate it into any decision making or action planning around an issue. If you don’t address the issues now, consider these risks:

  • Turnover of high potential employees
  • Decreased employee performance and productivity
  • Drop in company profit

Problem: Houston – We May Have a Problem

  • Are your leaders hearing rumors of employee concerns?
  • Are you seeing changes in performance metrics?
  • Are you noticing a shift in focus or morale among employees?
  • Are leaders hearing employees make comments about the lack of career development they receive, or that they are “stuck” in their current roles?

At times, organizations may face specific issues among their employee population. Whatever the issue at hand, gathering data from employees on their perspective provides actionable information to leaders that can inform decision making and messaging around the potential concern. Gathering data regarding employee development, opportunities for advancement, mentoring support, and turnover intentions can help the organization understand where it may be deficient in supporting the individuals that it would hope to retain and develop through the organization.

Identity: Taking a Look in the Mirror?

  • Are you questioning your culture or organizational identity?
  • Are you wanting to create a more positive, collaborative culture?
  • Are you operating on assumptions or using generic assessments?
  • Do you feel “behind the eight ball” when it comes to smartly determining how their organization is doing and where to take strategic action?

Organizations are obviously unique so different drivers consistently emerge as critical predictors of outcomes even when two organizations look the same on paper (e.g., similar employee size, industry, goals, etc.). When organizations take the time to assess aspects within their own unique contexts using custom assessments, they become equipped to directly address the issues they know are problematic for their organization and they have a distinct understanding of where to take specific actions to address any potential issues.

Hit the Bullseye!

We hope we’ve convinced you that ignoring organizational issues or approaching them in the wrong way is a huge mistake! Stay tuned for our next post. In the meantime, check out our white paper where we discuss the benefits of targeted assessments and provide best practices to help you successfully navigate through the ever-changing demands in the modern world of work.