Past Performance #2: Government Agency
Challenge: In 2009, Selena Rezvani was engaged by a large Federal agency—with multiple sites in the Midwest—to conduct a “culture review” of employees’ perceptions, specifically about leadership. The agency wanted to hear from employees about their day-to-day experiences as a means for leaders to reflect on their workplace culture, patterns, problems, and priorities. Results of the research study were also needed to develop new internal objectives for the Agency.
Solution: Rezvani, in conjunction with a team of assessment consultants, began by drafting a comprehensive project plan outlining key milestones with senior leadership. Following over the next three-month period, Rezvani identified research samples, conducted confidential interviews with 40+ employees, managers, and executives across multiple locations and facilitated “all hands” town hall-style meetings and executive presentations. Rezvani built customizable communication plans for senior leaders, tailored interview questionnaires, and deployed two, from-scratch electronic surveys which were sent to all employees. Assessments varied in format but focused on 7 central questions:
1. What three words or phrases would you use to describe common patterns of behavior here?
2. What do you like about working here?
3. What, if anything, has happened that’s broken trust? What needs to happen in order to foster more trust at ABC Agency?
4. What would you like to see/hear less of from management? What would you like to see/hear more of from management? Is this different for supervisors versus senior management?
5. What changes would you like to see ABC Agency make a priority?
6. What would you like to see happen as a result of the study?
7. At the end of this study, we will prepare a report of its findings. Is there anything else that you would like ABC Agency executives to know?
Following all interviews and surveys, leaders received a comprehensive report that outlined findings and a section that included verbatim employee comments from one of the surveys. A series of virtual and onsite presentations were then made to senior leaders by Rezvani and her team defining recommendations for moving forward.
Impact: The Agency was able to use the research of Rezvani and her team immediately to inform strategic planning and agency wide objectives. Three months following the engagement, leaders reported an increase in the quality of employee discussions, specifically as more engaged and positive in tone. As well, the quality of leaders’ action plans had improved from previous years and project teams were formed to tackle specific cultural levers within the organization. Progress reports from each project team are now presented at quarterly meetings and examples of cultural successes are highlighted and celebrated at these forums.
Perhaps most important, there is now different language and behavior associated with “how everyday work gets done.” For example, the consulting process used became part of the Agency’s culture permanently — allowing for greater two-way, ongoing dialogue between leaders and employees and increased value perception of HR and acceptance of organizational culture efforts.