October 12, 2016

Organizational Health - Introduction - Measurement and Management

The concept of organizational health

The concept of organizational health was first put forward in 1969 by Matthew Miles (Miles, 1969: 376). The relations between the students, teachers and managers in school were defined and observed through a simulation.

Miles suggested a model for organization health analysis of schools, and defined the healthy
organization as follows. “Healthy organization is one that does not survive only in the environment it exists, but also constantly develops in the long term, improves its coping and surviving skills.” (Miles, 1969: 378).

In general, organization health is expressed as the capabilities possessed by an organization to adapt to its environment successfully, create cooperation between its members and achieve its targets.

According to another definition; it is such an organization that supports organizational success, environment, employees’ welfare and happiness with its authority structure, values system, norms, reward and sanction systems.

The Organization Health Dimensions Developed by Miles

According to the model brought forward by Miles, dimensions of the organization health may be summarized as follows (Hoy&Feldman, 1987: 30).

The Task Needs Dimension
1. Objective-Focus: The objectives are easily understandable, acceptable and achievable by the
organization members.

2. Communication Adequacy: An in-organization communication system preventing misunderstandings is available. Thus, the employees access correct information and increase organization efficiency.

3. Optimal Power Uniformity: Distribution of the power within the organization is relatively uniform. They always think that those at lower levels can influence those at the immediate upper level.

• Survival Needs Dimension
4. Effective Use of Resources: Task distribution within the organization is done in the most effective way - neither less nor more than as required. There is a coherence between the demands and needs.

5. Organizational Commitment: The employees like the organization and want to stay there. They are
influenced by the organization, and they make efforts for unity of the organization.

6. Morale: There is employee welfare and team satisfaction in the organization in general.

• Growth and Development Needs Dimension
7. Innovativeness: The organization develops new procedures, sets new targets and constantly develops.
8. Autonomy: It is proactiveness in the organization. It shows several independent characteristics to the outer factors.
9. Adaptation: The organization has the skill of making the necessary changes in itself for growth and
10. Problem Solving Competency: The problems are solved with minimum energy expenditure. Problem solving
mechanism is constantly supported and strengthened.

Organization Health Dimensions Developed by Hoy

Hoy and Feldman examined organization health in seven dimensions. These seven dimensions are as follows (Hoy&Feldman, 1987).

1. Organizational Integrity: The organization’s ensuring integrity in its programs through its capability of adaptation to its environment.
2. Influence of the Organization Manager: The organization managers can influence decisions of the senior system they are subordinate to. The ability to convince their decision organs, having reputation and not being blocked by the hierarchic impediments are important factors of the organization managers.
3. Respect: This involves the friendly, supportive, overt and sincere behaviors exhibited by the organization managers to the employees. Such behaviors are important for increase of performances of the employees.
4. Work Order: This involves behaviors of the organization manager relating to various tasks and achievements. Expectations from the employees, performance standards and polices are clearly expressed by the organization manager.
5. Resource Support: This involves availability of sufficient machinery and equipment in the organizations, and procurement of additional resources when requested.
6. Morale: This is the sum of friendship, openness between the organization members, and the senses of excitement and confidence they feel about the work they do. The employees treat each other tolerantly, they help each other, feel proud of the organization they work in, and completing the works make them happy.
7. Importance of the work: This is about the organizations’ efforts for increasing work excellence. Work is started by setting high but achievable targets for the employees, and production activities are carried out in a serious and orderly fashion.

It is possible to group these dimensions as organization health dimensions at the institutional, managerial and technical level. Accordingly, Institutional Level consists of institutional integrity dimension, Managerial Level consists of the dimensions of work order, respect, influence of the organization manager and resource support, and Technical Level consists of the levels of morale and importance of the work.

Measuring Organization Health

Likewise, people who take their health for granted till some trouble appears, in the organization management also, managers usually do not measure organization health until they encounter a crisis. However, in order to achieve and sustain organizational health, a healthy organization structure should be formed beginning from establishment of the organization, measures should be taken against the problems that may occur, and organization health should be measured periodically. The measuring health of the organizations may reveal some weaknesses, but it may also give some clues to prepare improvement plans based on the obtained results. The organization’s being healthy or unhealthy is an evidence for need of change and innovation. But we need to determe what causes the unhealthy organization structure. Briefly, measurements set the conceptual basics in identification and solution of the problems. The strengths and weaknesses of the organization as well as the opportunities and threats it has are revealed through measurement of organization health.

Characteristics of Healthy and Unhealthy Organizations

It is required to know the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy organization so as to derive the desired benefit from organizational health. In the light of these characteristics, the organization should be analyzed, the revealed data should be interpreted, and solution of the problems leading to the unhealthy structure should be ensured.

                         Table : Characteristics of Healthy and Unhealthy Organizations

Healthy Organizations                                 Unhealthy Organizations
Open to innovation and improvement         Not open to innovation and improvement

Its long term effectiveness is high               Its long term effectiveness is low

Employees are ensured to participate          Employees apply the decisions made by top management
in the decisions
Organizational commitment is developed   Organizational commitment is not developed

Responsible to the environment and employees      Not responsible to the environment and employees

Proactive, takes preventive measures              Reactive, corrective actions are taken

Work stress is low                                        Work stress is high

Work satisfaction and workplace peace       Work satisfaction and workplace peace is low
is high
Importance is attached to employees               Importance is not attached to employees

Number of absences and quits is little            Number of absences and quits is big

Communication between the individuals       Communication between the individuals and top              and top management is strong                        management is weak
Worker safety is present,                               Worker safety is not present, work accidents are
work accidents are scarcely encountered      frequently encountered

Employees work with high motivation          Employees work with low motivation
and exhibit high performance                        and exhibit low performance

Unfavorable internal and external                 Unfavorable internal and external environmental
environmental conditions cannot                   conditions can damage the organization
damage the organization
Team spirit is developed, employees act         Team spirit is not developed,        
with the sense of “us”                                       employees act towards their personal interests

Employees feel themselves safe in the organization     Employees do not feel themselves safe in the organization
Information flow is robust and timely            Robust and timely information flow is unavailable
Strategies are put into practice successfully    Incapable to put strategies into practice
An open, trust-focused and encouraging organization culture is present     A closed, retributive and unfair organization culture is present
Problems are solved by digging                       Evidences of the problem are addressed, the                   into their causes                                                core cause cannot be identified
The organization is efficient and effective       The organization is not efficient and effective
Source: Karagüzel, 2012: 21 (Turkish paper)

What to do to enhance Organization Health

As in the human organism, healthy structure is hereditary in most of the organizations (Aguire et al., 2005:1).

According to Miles, the following five approaches are very important for increasing the organization health (Miles, 1969: 376):

• Supporting personal development
• Placing importance on communication
• Strengthening information flow
• Establishing an open-to-change organization culture
• Specialist support

The above content is based on:

The Relation Between Organizational Health and Organizational Commitment

Asst. Prof. Dr. Aydan Yüceler, Asst. Prof. Dr. ú. Didem Kaya
Necmettin Erbakan University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Konya, Turkey

Dr. Burcu Doøanalp
Selcuk University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Konya, Turkey

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
 MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy 
Vol 4 No 10
October 2013, pp. 781-788 

Aguire, D. M., L. W. Howell, D. B. Kletter ve G. L. Neilson (2005), A Global Check- Up: Diagnosing The Health of Today’s Organizations,
Organizational DNA Research Report. 

Hoy, W. K., ve Feldman, J. A. (1987), Organizational Health: The Concept and Its Measure, Journal of Research and Development in Education,
20, Summer. 

Miles, M. B. (1969), Planned Change and Organizational Health: Figure and Ground, in F. D. Carver & T. J. Sergiovanni (Eds.) Organizations and Human Behavior: Focus on Schools, New York, McGraw Hill

McKinsey on Organizational Health

McKinsey consultants have given importance to Organizational Health concept in recent days in their consultancy practice.

Organizational health: The ultimate competitive advantage
By Scott Keller and Colin Price
McKinsey Quarterly June 2011 

Organizational Health Index

Organizational health matters more than you might expect.
Leadership in context
By Michael Bazigos, Chris Gagnon, and Bill Schaninger
McKinsey Quarterly January 2016

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