Answered Essay: Write the objectives (atleast 10) and their explanation for the chapter “Feeding Back

Write the objectives (atleast 10) and their explanation for the chapter “Feeding Back Diagnostic Information”.

DETERMINING THE CONTENT OF THE FEEDBACK

In the course of diagnosing the organization, a large amount of data is collected. In

fact, there is often more information than the client needs or can interpret in a realistic

period of time. If too many data are fed back, the client may decide that changing

is impossible. Therefore, OD practitioners need to summarize the data in ways that

enable clients to understand the information and draw action implications from it. The

techniques for data analysis described in

Several characteristics of effective feedback data have been described in the

literature.1 They include the following nine properties:

Relevant. Organization members are likely to use feedback data for problem solving

when they find the information meaningful. Including managers and employees

in the initial data collection activities can increase the relevance of the data.

Understandable. Data must be presented to organization members in a form that

is readily interpreted. Statistical data, for example, can be made understandable

through the use of graphs and charts.

Descriptive. Feedback data need to be linked to real organizational behaviors if

they are to arouse and direct energy. The use of examples and detailed illustrations

can help employees gain a better feel for the data.

Verifiable. Feedback data should be valid and accurate if they are to guide action.

Thus, the information should allow organization members to verify whether the

findings really describe the organization. For example, questionnaire data might

include information about the sample of respondents as well as frequency distributions

for each item or measure. Such information can help members verify whether

the feedback data accurately represent organizational events or attitudes.

Timely. Data should be fed back to members as quickly as possible after being collected

and analyzed. This will help ensure that the information is still valid and is

linked to members’ motivations to examine it.

Limited. Because people can easily become overloaded with too much information,

feedback data should be limited to what employees can realistically process

at one time.

Significant. Feedback should be limited to those problems that organization

members can do something about because it will energize them and help direct

their efforts toward realistic changes.

Comparative. Feedback data can be ambiguous without some benchmark as a reference.

Whenever possible, data from comparative groups should be provided to give

organization members a better idea of how their group fits into a broader context.

Unfinalized. Feedback is primarily a stimulus for action and thus should spur further

diagnosis and problem solving. Members should be encouraged, for example, to use

the data as a starting point for more in-depth discussion of organizational issues.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FEEDBACK PROCESS

In addition to providing effective feedback data, it is equally important to attend to

the process by which that information is fed back to people. Typically, data are provided

to organization members in a meeting or series of meetings. Feedback meetings

provide a forum for discussing the data, drawing relevant conclusions, and devising

preliminary action plans. Because the data might include sensitive material and evaluations

about organization members’ behaviors, people may come to the meeting with

considerable anxiety and fear about receiving the feedback. This anxiety can result in

defensive behaviors aimed at denying the information or providing rationales. More

positively, people can be stimulated by the feedback and the hope that desired changes

will result from the feedback meeting. Because people are likely to come to feedback

meetings with anxiety, fear, and hope, OD practitioners need to manage the feedback

process so that constructive discussion and problem solving occur. The most important

objective of the feedback process is to ensure that organization members own the data.

Ownership is the opposite of resistance to change and refers to people’s willingness to

take responsibility for the data, their meaning, and the consequences of using them

to devise a change strategy.2 If the feedback session results in organization members

rejecting the data as invalid or useless, then the motivation to change is lost and members

will have difficulty engaging in a meaningful process of change.

Ownership of the feedback data is facilitated by the following five features of successful

feedback processes:3

Motivation to work with the data. People need to feel that working with the

feedback data will have beneficial outcomes. This may require explicit sanction and

support from powerful groups so that people feel free to raise issues and to identify

concerns during the feedback sessions. If people have little motivation to work

with the data or feel that there is little chance to use the data for change, then the

information will not be owned by the client system.

Structure for the meeting. Feedback meetings need some structure or they may

degenerate into chaos or aimless discussion. An agenda or outline for the meeting

and the presence of a discussion leader can usually provide the necessary direction.

If the meeting is not kept on track, especially when the data are negative,

ownership can be lost in conversations that become too general. When this happens,

the energy gained from dealing directly with the problem is lost.

Appropriate attendance. Generally, people who have common problems and

can benefit from working together should be included in the feedback meeting. This

may involve a fully intact work team or groups comprising members from different

functional areas or hierarchical levels. Without proper representation in the meeting,

ownership of the data is lost because participants cannot address the problem(s)

suggested by the feedback.

Appropriate power. It is important to clarify the power possessed by the group.

Members need to know on which issues they can make necessary changes, on

which they can only recommend changes, and over which they have no control.

Unless there are clear boundaries, members are likely to have some hesitation

about using the feedback data for generating action plans. Moreover, if the grouphas no power to make changes, the feedback meeting will become an empty

exercise rather than a real problem-solving session. Without the power to address

change, there will be little ownership of the data.

Process help. People in feedback meetings require assistance in working together

as a group. When the data are negative, there is a natural tendency to resist the

implications, deflect the conversation onto safer subjects, and the like. An OD practitioner

with group process skills can help members stay focused on the subject and

improve feedback discussion, problem solving, and ownership.

When combined with effective feedback data, these features of successful feedback

meetings enhance member ownership of the data. They help to ensure that organization

members fully discuss the implications of the diagnostic information and that

their conclusions are directed toward relevant and feasible organizational changes.

Application 8.1 presents excerpts from some training materials that were delivered

to a group of internal facilitators at a Fortune 100 telecommunications company.4 It

describes how the facilitators were trained to deliver the results of a survey concerning

problem solving, team functioning, and perceived effectiveness.

SURVEY FEEDBACK

Survey feedback is a process of collecting and feeding back data from an organization

or department through the use of a questionnaire or survey. The data are

analyzed, fed back to organization members, and used by them to diagnose the

organization and to develop interventions to improve it. Because questionnaires

often are used in organization diagnosis, particularly in OD efforts involving large

numbers of participants, and because it is a powerful intervention in its own right,

survey feedback is discussed here as a special case of data feedback.

As discussed in Chapter 1, survey feedback is a major technique in the history and

development of OD. Originally, this intervention included only data from questionnaires

about members’ attitudes. However, attitudinal data can be supplemented

with interview data and more objective measures, such as productivity, turnover, and

absenteeism.5 Another trend has been to combine survey feedback with other OD

interventions, including work design, structural change, large-group interventions,

and intergroup relations. These change methods are the outcome of the planning

and implementation phase following from survey feedback and are described fully in

What Are the Steps?

Survey feedback generally involves the following five steps:6

Members of the organization, including those at the top, are involved in

preliminary planning of the survey. In this step, all parties must be clear about

the level of analysis (organization, department, or small group) and the objectives

of the survey. Because most surveys derive from a model about organizational or

group functioning, organization members must, in effect, approve that diagnostic

framework. This is an important initial step in gaining ownership of the data and

in ensuring that the right problems and issues are addressed by the survey.

Once the objectives are determined, the organization can use one of the standardized

questionnaires described in Chapter 7, or it can develop its own survey

instrument. If the survey is developed internally, pretesting the questionnaire is

essential to ensure that it has been constructed properly. In either case, the survey

items need to reflect the objectives established for the survey and the diagnostic

issues being addressed.

Limitations of Survey Feedback

Although the use of survey feedback is widespread in contemporary organizations, the

following limits and risks have been identified:10

Ambiguity of purpose. Managers and staff groups responsible for the

survey-feedback process may have difficulty reaching sufficient consensus about

the purposes of the survey, its content, and how it will be fed back to participants.

Such confusion can lead to considerable disagreement over the data collected and

paralysis about doing anything with them.

Distrust. High levels of distrust in the organization can render the survey feedback

ineffective. Employees need to trust that their responses will remain anonymous and

that management is serious about sharing the data and solving problems jointly.

Unacceptable topics. Most organizations have certain topics that they do not

want examined. This can severely constrain the scope of the survey process, particularly

if the neglected topics are important to employees.

Organizational disturbance. The survey-feedback process can unduly disturb

organizational functioning. Data collection and feedback typically infringe on

employee work time. Moreover, administration of a survey can call attention to

issues with which management is unwilling to deal, and can create unrealistic

expectations about organizational improvement.

Results of Survey Feedback

Survey feedback has been used widely in business organizations, schools, hospitals,

federal and state governments, and the military. The navy has used survey feedback

in more than 500 navy commands. More than 150,000 individual surveys were completed,

and a large bank of computerized research data was generated. Promising

results were noted among survey indices on nonjudicial punishment rates, incidence

of drug abuse reports, and performance of ships undergoing refresher training (a postoverhaul

training and evaluation period).11 Positive results have been reported in such

diverse areas as an industrial organization in Sweden and the Israeli Army.12

One of the most important studies of survey feedback was done by Bowers, who

conducted a five-year longitudinal study (the Intercompany Longitudinal Study) of

23 organizations in 15 companies involving more than 14,000 people in both whitecollar

and blue-collar positions.13 In each of the 23 organizations studied, repeat

measurements were taken. The study compared survey feedback with three other

OD interventions: interpersonal process consultation, task process consultation, and

laboratory training. The study reported that survey feedback was the most effective of

the four treatments and the only one “associated with large across-the-board positive

changes in organization climate.”14 Although these findings have been questioned on

a number of methodological grounds,15 the original conclusion that survey feedback

is effective in achieving organizational change was supported. The study suggested

that any conclusions to be drawn from action research and survey-feedback studies

should be based, at least in part, on objective operating data.

Comprehensive reviews of the literature reveal differing perspectives on the

effects of survey feedback. In one review, survey feedback’s biggest impact was on

attitudes and perceptions of the work situation. The study suggested that survey

feedback might best be viewed as a bridge between the diagnosis of organizational

problems and the implementation of problem-solving methods because little evidence

suggests that survey feedback alone will result in changes in individual

behavior or organizational output.16 This view is supported by research suggesting

that the more the data were used to solve problems between initial surveys and later

surveys, the more the data improved.17 Another study suggested that survey feedback

has positive effects on both outcome variables (for example, productivity, costs,

and absenteeism) and process variables (for example, employee openness, decision

making, and motivation) in 53% and 48%, respectively, of the studies measuring

those variables. When compared with other OD approaches, survey feedback was

only bettered by interventions using several approaches together—for example,

change programs involving a combination of survey feedback, process consultation,

and team building.18 On the other hand, another review found that, in contrast to

laboratory training and team building, survey feedback was least effective, with only

33% of the studies that measured hard outcomes reporting success. The success rate

increased to 45%, however, when survey feedback was combined with team building.

19 Finally, a meta-analysis of OD process interventions and individual attitudes

suggested that survey feedback was not significantly associated with overall satisfaction

or attitudes about co-workers, the job, or the organization. Survey feedback

was able to account for only about 11% of the variance in satisfaction and other

attitudes.20

Studies of specific survey-feedback interventions identify conditions that improve

the success of this technique. One study in an urban school district reported difficulties

with survey feedback and suggested that its effectiveness depends partly on the

quality of those leading the change effort, members’ understanding of the process,

the extent to which the survey focuses on issues important to participants, and the

degree to which the values expressed by the survey are congruent with those of the

CHAPTER 8 Feeding Back Diagnostic Information 149

respondents.21 Another study in the military concluded that survey feedback works

best when supervisors play an active role in feeding back data to employees and

helping them to work with the data.22 Similarly, a field study of funeral cooperative

societies concluded that the use and dissemination of survey results increased

when organization members were closely involved in developing and carrying out

the project and when the consultant provided technical assistance in the form of

data analysis and interpretation.23 Finally, a long-term study of survey feedback in

an underground mining operation suggested that continued, periodic use of survey

feedback can produce significant changes in organizations.24

Expert Answer

Following are the objectives of Organizational Feedback Diagnostic:

  • To identify the strengths and Weaknesses of the employees. It helps the employers to assign the relevant tasks to the relevant employees and to maintain the efficiency of the Human Resource Management. It helps in identifying the specific areas of improvement and the steps to take for improvement.
  • To assess and improve training effectiveness. As the newly recruited employees undergo a training process and that endorses in building the employee capabilities. Thus, if any flaw exists in conducting the training of employees then it ultimately hampers the organizational growth.
  • To determine the Organizational fit of employees. It helps in evaluating the gap between the current and desired performance, also gives a vision about how to decrease this gap.
  • Improving Organizational Health and Job Satisfaction: It helps to discover the hidden problems and challenges faced by the employees and the organization. AFter highlighting the issues organization can take steps or actions in improving the health of the organization.
  • To provide data that helps in decision making: The decision making of the process can be improved by the backup of the data so as to increase the probability the positive outcome of that decision.
  • To realize the importance of work: The importance of the work realization can have an amazing impact on the employee as well as the organization. It helps in shaping the organizational environment in such a way that employees may get self-motivation to get the work done.
  • To assess the areas in need of improvement: It is one of the most important objectives of the diagnostic organization to highlight the honest and genuine comment on the things which the organization should work for improvement.
  • To reveal honest, reliable and complete information about the employees so as to understand the employee behavior and thus helps in understanding the way to which organizational change should be directed.
  • Designing future commitments: It helps in understand the direction to which organization should move and the direction to which individual employee should focus to give better result
  • Setting up the benchmark: It helps in deciding the standards for the different tasks which need to be performed. Also, directs a way to implement this policy of maintaining the product quality above benchmark.
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