Assessments for Improved Results

Improved results just don’t happen.

Everyone looks for improved results. When training, we want to be able to run faster and go longer distances, lift more, throw further, hit the golf ball longer and straighter. Almost every company wants to see improved results in achieving higher sales, lower costs, more income, and better employee retention, for example.

It takes behavior change to bring them about. In order for change to occur, there must be a change in thinking, as our behaviors are a function of our attitudes.

While coaching and leadership development can certainly work without assessment tools, these instruments help us hone in on those attitudes and competencies which require change in order to improve.

Why Use Assessments?

The phrase “assessment tools” in our context refers to the methods of gathering data about leadership or organizational performance and understanding. These may include questionnaires, written tests, interviews, checklists and rating scales for projects or performances. They give us a measure of where we currently are. By measuring that, there is an indication of areas that need development or improvement.

Peter Drucker, the great management theorist, created a simple yet profound organizational assessment process of five questions:

o What is our mission?

o Who is our customer?

o What does the customer value?

o What are our results?

o What is our plan?

Drucker believed that self-assessment leads to action and without it, action didn’t have meaning. While Drucker’s self-assessment is short, the process of arriving at the answers to the five questions is not. It is almost equivalent to doing a strategic plan.

“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe

Yes, but Which Assessment Tools?

Assessment tools range from the very simple to the quite complex. An example of a simple organizational assessment can be found in Fail-Safe Leadership by Linda Martin and David Mutchler (2003). They call it “a quick temperature check.” It asks the question:

“Might the leadership in my company be failing?”

They say the answer might be “yes’ if one or more of the conditions listed is present in the organization:

o Excessive meetings

o Preponderance of consensus driven decision making

o Lack of personal accountability

o Time consuming and/or meaningless performance evaluations

o Communication problems

o Difficulty terminating poor performers

o Misalignment/poorly coordinated efforts

o Personality conflicts and/or power struggles

o Difficulties keeping employees motivated

o Unacceptable results

o Time management problems

o Reactive rather than proactive thinking

o Micro-management

o Can’t do attitudes

o Chronically sagging sales

o Unproductive teams and/or ineffective teamwork

o Duplication of effort

o High staff turnover

o Failure to achieve quality standards

o Fear of making decisions

The above type of assessment is not scientifically reliable. Instead, it offers a very general sense that something within an organization may or may not be wrong.

A slightly more sophisticated organizational assessment tool is D.I.A.L.O.G. (Diagnostic Data Indicating the Alignment of Organizational Goals). This tool answers the question:

“How can we easily measure if the people within our organization are aligned with our strategies?”

D.I.A.L.O.G. provides an organization’s leadership with reasonably hard data as to where there are disconnects between the vision and/or mission, and where management and employees perceive the company to be in a number of key areas.

The most interesting aspect of D.I.A.L.O.G. is that it uses as its foundation the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria. These criteria are well accepted indicators of organizational success. The Baldrige Award was created by federal law in 1987. Information on this Act can be found at

The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the quality and performance achievements of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are available on the web at

At Management Mpowerment Associates, we offer a full range of organizational assessment tools to assist leaders determine where opportunities for positive change exist. These instruments are the starting point for the change process. The hard work comes afterward, as the organizational stakeholders strive to institute the changes indicated.