How healthy is your organisation?

What’s your cholesterol level? Are you the optimum weight for your height? Is your level of fitness adequate for the demands your life makes on your body?

But when did you as a business leader last systematically assess the state of health of your organisation? I don’t mean its financial state – I bet you check on that all the time. Nor do I mean the structures, systems, policies, legal compliance and other concrete issues, that I am confident you keep an eye on all the time. I mean the body of the organisation – its heart, lungs and circulation!

That means knowing at any given moment whether the strategy and direction of the organisation is in good shape, right the way through to the most junior member of staff and the farthest outpost. It means measuring, with as much rigour as you measure your financial state, that the culture of the organisation is healthy, and up to the demands you make on it. And it means knowing that every area of the organisation is delivering optimum performance and results, and doing so in a way that doesn’t demand that ‘all-hands-to-the-pump’ desperate dash at the end of each quarter or the end of the year.

What is ‘organisation health’?

Basically I mean the degree to which the unique characteristics of your organisation support or hinder what it exists for. If you are training to be an Olympic long distance runner the requirements of your bodily health will be different from those of someone who takes little or no exercise. You need different priority areas and amounts of attention, commitment and effort to win an Olympic medal; how you spend your time is different too.

So while the exact degree of required health will vary depending on what you are asking of your business, no organisation sets out to be a couch potato! “Lean and mean”, “efficient and effective”, “the best”, “market leaders” are the familiar phrases.

You may sometimes be disappointed that, despite all the resources at your disposal, your organisation does not reliably and consistently meet its objectives. Can you say, hand on heart, that you know you have created an organisation that people are proud of and satisfied with – and back up your claim with objective data? A Sunday Times survey showed that companies whose people rated the organisation highly had, over a 5-year period, share growth 40-50% higher than the average of the FTSE all-share listed companies.

How can you check the health of your organisation?

I asked a few questions above that will be familiar to those of you who periodically undertake a systematic check of your own health. Let’s ask a few similar ones for the health of your organisation:

  • How concise and compelling a way do you have to communicate the business’s strategy?
  • To what extent do all managers and staff believe the strategy is achievable, find it personally exciting, and share it concisely and compellingly with others?
  • How far is the strategic plan translated into practical steps which are owned by specific individuals and integrated into each individual’s total work plan?
  • How proactively do you develop your business culture, especially when your strategy changes?
  • How effective are all top and middle management in coaching all employees to demonstrate the stated company values? Do you have stated company values?

These are just a few of the questions you should be considering if you want to make a systematic job of assessing the health of your organisation. On a scale from 1: couldn’t be worse, to 5: world-class, how would you score your own organisation?

What you can expect from a full health check

A full organisation health check gives you clear guidance as to what priorities to work on to have your organisation be in peak condition, and in the best possible shape to achieve its purpose.

It gives you a baseline for judgments to be made collectively and objectively so that, over time, you can measure progress in a systematic and organised way:

  • You can quantify your business’s health in a way that is as tangible as financial measurement
  • You can prioritise development areas appropriately among other business issues
  • You can measure and manage improvement over time

Want to check your organisation’s health?

With our Organisation Health Check you can find out