How to Understand Organizational Needs

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Understanding organizational needs is the first step in improving performance.
Understanding organizational needs is the first step in improving performance. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Understanding organizational needs involves organizational and individual analyses. Organizational analysis looks at an organization’s preparedness in dealing with changes in the external environment, including the functioning of its internal processes. Individual analysis determines if gaps in skill levels and staff morale are affecting performance and identifies strategies (such as training) to bridge those gaps.

Organizational Analysis

Examine organizational preparedness in dealing with changes in the external environment, including changes in regulatory, economic and competitive forces. For example, if there have been new regulations concerning financial disclosures, determine if the accounting and finance groups have the resources necessary to implement these changes. Address deficiencies through training programs and additional staff recruitment.

Evaluate the overall effectiveness of the organization in meeting the stated goals by looking at sales, profitability and market share growth data. If performance has been falling short, see if the operational units (project teams and functional departments) have the necessary resources, including facilities, funds, equipment and expertise. Make a prioritized list to fill any gaps and include it in your budgeting process.

Review the human resource needs of the organization, not just for the present, but for the intermediate and long-term future. Make sure that the organization is prepared for changing workforce demographics and economic conditions. Make the appropriate adjustments in your human resource planning, such as increasing recruitment efforts to address retirements or implementing layoffs during economic downturns.

Assess the compensation structure and make sure that it is competitive. If staff turnover is high compared to industry peers, then the compensation structure might need to be adjusted so that you do not lose key personnel to competitors.

Analyze how quickly the organization responds to operational issues, including quality control, equipment downtime and customer complaints. For example, if there have been an unusually high number of complaints and product returns, then the entire quality control process might need an overhaul.

Individual Analysis

Identify the essential and specialized skills crucial to your organization's performance. Essential skills include reading, writing, analytical thinking, working collaboratively and computer use. Specialized skills include accounting and finance skills, technical skills and leadership skills.

Assess individual skill levels by asking department managers to fill out skills assessment questionnaires. The key here is to determine if and to what degree (high, medium or low) skill deficiencies are impacting organizational performance, not whether each employee's skills meet an abstract standard. Labor market shortages in certain skills (such as specialized construction trades) may make it difficult to fill those positions. However, gaps in other skills could be addressed by training programs, such as training on basic communications skills or in using a new customer relationship management tool.

Survey the staff morale periodically through online questionnaires and focus groups. Identify the factors contributing to job motivation and the key reasons for dissatisfaction. Address these factors through job redesign and leadership training.

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