Organizational Development: How To Build A Workforce That Rocks

In this slideshow I presented a broad strategy for developing your organization into one that is high performing, collaborative, and innovative:

In this article I’ll explore the concepts I introduced in a lot more depth.
A 2012 survey published on reveals the top 10 organizational training and development priorities as ranked by 1500 human resource and training managers:1. Leadership
2. Communication
3. Team Building
4. Change Management
5. Coaching Skills
6. Conflict Resolution
7. Employee Engagement
8. Performance Management
9. Critical Thinking
10.  Listening SkillsIn relative terms, the priorities look like this:

Top 10 Training and Development Needs (Source:

Top 10 Training and Development Needs (Source:

You can sum things up this way: Organizations want to reduce their ‘internal friction’ and become highly productive, collaborative and high-performing. 

If an organization can achieve this, it enables them to work together better and focus their energy on their customers’ problems rather than their own.

But that is a pretty ambitious list of priorities!  How do you tackle it all?

And to compound matters further, a lot of business owners, HR managers and training executives make one…critical…mistake when trying to address these needs…

…they fail to understand how all of these are interrelated.

  • It takes solid listening, critical thinking and conflict resolution skills to enable team building.
  • Leadership development requires communications, listening, conflict resolution and coaching skills.

A different way to look at this list is to separate the things that are ‘foundational’ training needs from those that are more ‘advanced.’

Foundational vs. Advanced Skills

Foundational vs. Advanced Needs

In other words, before you hit the advanced topics, you need to get a good handle on the foundational stuff.

I developed my approach by first understanding the underlying reality that connects all of these training needs.  I call this the reality of ‘mental diversity.’Modern neuroscience research tells us the ways people think and behave are based on a combination of their genetic ‘blueprint’ and their life experiences.

This means that an organization is, fundamentally, a collection of minds that are not only wired differently at the genetic level – they’ve accumulated a broad variety of different life experiences.

It’s these factors that shape how people:

* Communicate
* Listen
* Understand information
* Lead
* Make decisions
* Interact with others

Knowing all this, we can now define the ‘overarching’ key to organizational development:

To reach your organizational development goals, your workforce – from top to bottom – must learn to leverage its mental diversity while eliminating the friction created by that same diversity.

Let’s now return to the four-step process I introduced in the slideshow.  I’m going to hit on each of these individually, to better explain what each means. After I’m done, you’ll clearly understand how the process works, and how you can implement it in your organization.

To achieve self-awareness, you must first develop insight.  You gain insight and awareness through understanding your own mental strengths and weaknesses.

The psychometric tool I use to create insight and awareness is Emergenetics, which I describe in detail here.  When taking Emergenetics the goal is to understand your thinking attributes and behaviors in depth, and in doing so discover your true strengths and weaknesses.


About The Author

Sandy Cormack

Sandy Cormack is the managing director of Strategic Diagnostics LLC. He specializes in diagnosing organizational problems to dramatically increase effectiveness of hiring, individual and organizational performance.

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