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Diversity Process Consulting or Intervention Consulting: How Do We Demonstrate Our Unique Value?

pexels-photo-95916.jpegBuilding an Effective Diversity Measurement System

The creation of an effective Diversity measurement system and “best” practices cannot be a mechanical modeling exercise. It must be preceded by an inspection and utilization of basic business principles. It must focus on organizational and departmental strategic thinking as well as an assessment of the desired quality of work-life. Developing the actual measures is easy compared to the amount of time that should be spent thinking about what is important to the organization’s strategic business objectives and the expectations of the diversity measurement process.

Key steps to building an effective measurement system

Creating an effective Diversity measurement system and process that embodies these concepts involves at least five critical steps:

  • Review the Strategic Business Plan for Needs
  • Formulate Research Questions
  • Design the Study Methodology
  • Collect and Analyze Data
  • Implement Solutions and Communicate Results

Each step in the process logically builds on the previous step which generates an evidenced-based framework that creates a “Best Practice” method for proving Diversity’s link to performance.

Dr H Book Tower Graphic for Proposals

With proper training and skill/competency development, one of the more critical roles a Diversity Practitioner and Professional can perform is that of a Diversity Performance Consultant/Technologisttm. This role in the Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc. Diversity Discipline Framework requires the Practitioner to design, develop and deliver or evaluate diversity performance solutions; maintain and apply an in-depth working knowledge in any one or more of the diversity performance improvement areas of expertise; take a disciplined approach to assessing individual and organizational effectiveness in the midst of collective mixtures of differences and similarities, diagnose causes of diversity tensions from differences, similarities and complexities, and recommend a set of interventions; as well as design solutions to improve diverse workforce performance and/or solutions to improve the organization’s performance.

I have always viewed Diversity ROI & Inclusion methods as “performance improvement technologies”. I am also a strong supporter of participatory approaches to performance improvement, from involving stakeholders in the identification of needs and their causal factors to determining solution alternatives, selecting the solution, planning and managing the change, and monitoring and evaluating the change. This active stakeholder participation is critical to the sustainable success of any Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) intervention, not only because we gain real buy-in from stakeholders, but also because part of what we do as rigorous Practitioners ultimately, is to change the way people think about and approach D&I performance solutions in organizations.

Diversity Intervention Consulting is primarily focused on a specific transaction, the provision of an intervention (e.g., Cultural Competency Skills for Leaders training), whether it is a specific process or product. In this case, the performance consultant, as “expert,” carries the bulk of the responsibility for delivering the intervention, but does not typically stick around for the consequences of such interventions. Partially rooted in the sociological tradition in new systems theory which views organizations as self-organizing social systems, Performance/Process Consulting provides a different approach. With a Performance/Process Consulting approach, however, the Diversity Performance Consultant/Technologisttm and the client are equal partners who share the responsibility for the desired change. There is a reduced chance of falling into fads or trendy solutions that may be insufficient or not fully applicable to the organizational realities, because both the Diversity Performance Consultant/Technologisttm and the client are partners in the change and its consequences. Both have a stake in the success of the intervention, and both learn lessons along the way. Moreover, they involve others in the organization, so that these lessons learned benefit more than just a few.

I am convinced that the real value of our work is much more than a roster of interventions (no matter how evidenced-based); rather, it is the paradigm shift that we contribute to in the course of our involvement with our stakeholders. Our ultimate value is in the sustainable and positive change of the organization’s performance system that is now able to operate at its goal or outcome level. While neither resource was utilized exclusively, it is certainly worthwhile for us to reflect on our own approach and determine whether we consciously or subconsciously assessed the situation to determine what balance or blend would be of most value for the given situation.

It is always helpful to review our Performance Consulting approach because of the wide range of relevant topics and ROI-based metrics that fit under the performance improvement umbrella. I am fond of saying that “focusing on tactics without a strategic framework is like learning to run faster in the wrong direction”. You cannot make a strategic contribution without a tight alignment and linkage to the business objectives and success metrics of the organization. If you want to have your interventions resonate with the C-suite and line managers of the organization, they must be based in the real bottom-line needs that drive organizational performance. Whether the organizational initiative is diversity training to teach cultural competency skills, selling products to emerging market clientele, innovating new products and services for a global market, delivering healthcare services, serving governmental constituents, meeting a wide range of student needs, improving the customer service experience, etc., “strategically aligned” diversity performance strategies have the best chance at success and sustainability.

Let’s take a look at an example that helps to clarify this relationship. First, among the organization’s strategic objectives, you find a series of crucial performance areas. One of these areas focuses on an objective of improved customer service. Based upon the importance of this area to the business, the diversity organization has created a corresponding strategic objective to analyze and improve service across all demographic market segments. In the second step, you determine that for service to be improved in these targeted markets, the critical success factor areas must include “improved communication”, “culturally appropriate interactions”, quick access, increased satisfaction, and accurate information. Finally, these critical success factor areas lead you to select diversity performance measures and indicators that support each critical success factor area such as the “percentage of multilingual service transactions delivered”, “number of rings to answer” when a customer calls the organization, “percentage of favorable response on your diverse customer satisfaction survey”, etc. This type of alignment drives improved performance and gains top management support.

Both Diversity Process Consulting and Diversity Intervention Consulting can offer strategic value to the organization. The key is how well each Performance Consulting method meets critical needs of the business to drive its goals, outcomes and success. At what value level would stakeholders rate your internal Performance Consulting methods today? What do you need to do differently to enhance your role as a value-added business partner? Let me know what you think. Want to learn more?? Contact me at edhub@aol.com.

Dr. Hubbard is an expert in Organizational Behavior, Organizational Analysis, Applied Performance Improvement and Measurement Strategies, Strategic Planning, Diversity Measurement, and Organizational Change Methodologies. He holds a Practitioner Certification and Master Practitioner Certification in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), a Neuro-science discipline. Dr. Hubbard earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees from The Ohio State University and earned a Ph.D. with Honors in Business Administration.

He can be reached at edhub@aol.com.

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CEOs Want to Know the Impact of Diversity ROI on Initiatives but Aren’t Getting It!

A study of CEOs analyzing what CEOs want from their Diversity organizations concluded that CEOs want to see the impact and ROI of their Diversity investments but instead receive only activity and satisfaction data. So, why aren’t Diversity & Inclusion Executives, Managers, Practitioners, etc. measuring their impact and sharing with their CEOs? After all, this is not exactly a revelation. Some of the leading reasons are lack of resources, lack of support from the CEO, lack of funding, lack of skills, etc. My take: these are all just excuses since there are a huge number of resources, books, workshops, etc., available. This strongly suggests that many Diversity Practitioners need a serious skill update or should excuse themselves out of the job. If they remain without these skills, at some point, they may face elimination and/or extinction.

This is the 21st Century, with its emphasis on cutting edge as well as “State of the Practice” technological and analytical advances, yet Diversity Practitioners are using old-fashion measurement skills where the wheels immediately come off of their measurement system wagons. We haven’t been in the “Old West” of Diversity measurement for quite a few decades. State of the Art Diversity ROI processes have been here for quite some time.

Accountability Trends

Many enlightened business managers often take a professional business approach to Diversity, with ROI being part of the strategy. Top executives who watched their diversity budgets continue to grow without appropriate accountability measures have become frustrated with this approach. In an attempt to respond to the situation, they have turned to Diversity Return on Investment (DROI®). Top executives are now demanding DROI® calculations from Diversity departments where they were not required previously.

So, what factors prevent us from mastering Diversity ROI measurement? Here are a few excuses I hear that Diversity Practitioners say are consistently challenging and “Small Doses” to begin to address them:

Assorted Medicine Pills in Caps

Small Doses to Bust Up Measurement Myths and Misconceptions

Issue-1: Lack of Skills and Orientation
Many Diversity staff members neither understand ROI nor do they have the basic skills necessary to apply the process within their scope of responsibilities. Diversity ROI Measurement and evaluation is not usually part of the preparation for the Diversity job or taught as part of a university education focused on diversity. Also, the typical Diversity training program or intervention does not focus on results, but more on diversity awareness concepts, activities, or other issues. Staff members attempt to measure results by measuring learning only instead of the full range of Diversity performance intervention outcomes (at all 7 levels) that drive business. Consequently, this is a tremendous barrier to implementation that must be changed such that the overall orientation, attitude, and skills of the Diversity staff member are focused on business results, impact, and/or outcomes.

Small Dose-1: Build DROI® Skills and Measurement Orientation
Don’t wait until you are asked about the DROI® of your Diversity intervention to gain competency and business acumen in this area, start learning about DROI® today! Attend a Diversity ROI Webinar, Workshop, Read books on Diversity ROI, Use DROI® Tools, etc. (Note: DROI® is a registered trademark of Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc., All Rights Reserved.)

Issue-2: Faulty Needs Assessment
Many existing Diversity interventions are not based on an adequate needs assessment. Some diversity interventions have been implemented for the wrong reasons based on requests to chase a popular fad or trend in the industry. Even worse, they schedule training for everyone in the organization costing thousands or millions of dollars with NO measurable DROI®. If the intervention is not needed, the benefits from the program will be minimal or wasted. A DROI® calculation for an unnecessary program will likely yield a negative value. This barrier can be eliminated by training and certifying Diversity Executives and Practitioner in programs such as Diversity ROI Certification, training and measurement workshops, etc.

Tools and Templates 4

Remember: “If there is no verified need you cannot calculate Diversity ROI Impact”

Small Dose-2: Learn the Detailed Steps to Conduct a Comprehensive Needs Assessment
Needs analysis is the cornerstone of any Diversity performance analysis effort. It provides you with appropriate justification for either developing or not developing your Diversity intervention. You must conduct a needs analysis, no matter how abbreviated, before any Diversity intervention takes place.
The objectives of a needs analysis are to:

  • Describe the target population
  • Describe the exact nature of a performance discrepancy (Ideal versus Actual Performance)
  • Determine the cause(s) of the discrepancy
  • Recommend the appropriate solution(s)

Issue-3: FEAR
Some Diversity departments do not pursue DROI® measurement implementation due to fear of failure or fear of the unknown. Fear of failure appears in many ways. Designers, developers, facilitators, and program owners may be concerned about the consequences of a negative DROI®. They fear that the DROI® measurement process will be a performance evaluation tool instead of a process improvement tool. Also, the DROI® process will stir up the traditional fear of change. This fear is often based on unrealistic assumptions and a lack of knowledge of the process.

Small Dose-3: Overcome FEAR by Taking Action
The best way to overcome FEAR is by (a) taking action, (b) generating results, (c) evaluating the outcome, and (d) implementing improvements. FEAR is often based on a lack of knowledge so the antidote is to “learn” and “master” the DROI® skills and processes.

Issue-4: Discipline and Planning
A successful DROI® evaluation implementation requires much planning and a disciplined approach to keep the process on track. Implementation schedules, evaluation targets, DROI® analysis plans, measurement and evaluation policies, and follow-up schedules are required. The Diversity Change Management team may not have enough discipline and determination to stay on course. This becomes a barrier, particularly if there are no immediate pressures to measure the return. If the current senior management group is not requiring a DROI® evaluation, the Diversity Change Management team may not allocate time for planning and coordination. Also, other pressures and priorities often eat into the time necessary for an effective DROI® evaluation implementation. Only carefully planned implementation efforts succeed.

Linkage Graphic using Puzzle Piece

Develop Strategic Capabilities and Follow-thru

Small Dose-4: Build DROI® Discipline and Planning Focus
There is really no substitute for implementing a thorough approach to a DROI® evaluation process. The practice of Diversity ROI evaluation should be an “industry standard of professionalism and competence” in the Diversity and Inclusion field and discipline. To do otherwise sets us apart from other professional discipline such as Marketing, Sales, Operations, etc. that require standard metrics and analyses to determine their effectiveness and impact. Diversity ROI impact analysis must be implemented using effective project planning and management skills as well as following the DROI® methodology according to each step in its design.

Issue-5: False Assumptions
Many Diversity staff members have false assumptions about the DROI® process that keep them from attempting DROI®. Typical assumptions include: (a) The impact of intervention cannot be accurately calculated, (b) Operating managers do not want to see the results of Diversity expressed in monetary values. They won’t believe it, (c) If the CEO does not ask for the DROI®, he or she is not expecting it, (d) CDO denial – “I have a professional, competent staff. Therefore, I do not have to justify the effectiveness of our programs”, (e) Learning or this type of intervention is a complex but necessary activity. Therefore, it should not be subjected to an accountability process, etc. These false assumptions form perceptible barriers that impede the progress of a DROI® evaluation implementation.

Performance Measurement

Use Evidence-based Data for Credibility

Small Dose-5: Eliminate Any False Assumptions
Credible processes rooted in strategic performance-based sciences to calculate Diversity ROI have been in existence for over 30 years. Yet, Diversity practitioners have been slow to enroll and learn what it takes to be fully competent and capable in this scientific discipline. Let’s face it; the DROI® evaluation process and its associated analytics are here to stay. It’s only realistic that Diversity practitioners eliminate any false assumptions, wishful thinking and/or outdated measurement paradigms that prevent them from being effective. In the future, there is likely to be even more demands for DROI® analysis feedback, demonstrated credibility and intervention performance value that tie to the organization’s bottom line.

Dr H Book Tower Graphic for Proposals

Sample Diversity ROI Resources by Dr. Hubbard

Using these processes has the added benefit of improving the effectiveness of all Diversity interventions we conduct. Only those Diversity Practitioners who can operate as full strategic business partners will have what’s needed to survive for the long term. Do You Have What It Takes To “Survive”, “Thrive”, and “Drive” Real Business Performance using  Diversity & Inclusion? The next move is yours!

Dr. Edward E. Hubbard is President & CEO of Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc. and is recognized as the pioneer and founder of the Diversity Measurement and Diversity Analytics fields. He is the author of over 40 plus books including the ground-breaking “Measuring Diversity Results”, “How to Calculate Diversity Return on Investment”, “The Diversity Scorecard: Evaluating Diversity’s Impact on Organizational Performance”, “Diversity Training ROI”, “The Executive’s Pocket Coach to Diversity and Inclusion Management”, “Measuring the ROI Impact of ERGs and BRGs”, “The Diversity Discipline”, “The Hidden Side of Employee Resistance to Change”, and many more. Dr. Hubbard is available Keynote presentations, Strategic Diversity and ROI Consulting, Training, etc. He can be reached at edhub@aol.com.

 

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“Evaluation, Reliability, and Validity: How Credible are Your Diversity Initiative Assessments of Progress and Results?”

Performance MeasurementEvaluation is a task that every Diversity Practitioner will face at one time or another. No matter what your role such as Trainer, Consultant, Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Council Member, ERG/BRG Leader, etc., conducting an evaluation to assess key aspects of your Diversity and Inclusion initiatives is inevitable.

Two Definitions of Evaluation

People do not always agree on one definition of evaluation. Following are statements that reflect two different definitions:

  • “Evaluation is the systematic process of collecting and analyzing data in order to determine whether and to what degree objectives have been or are being achieved.”
  • “Evaluation is the systematic process of collecting and analyzing data in order to make a decision.”

Notice that the first ten words in each of the definitions are the same. However, the reasons-the “Why!”-for collecting and analyzing the data reflect a notable difference in the philosophies behind each definition. The first reflects a philosophy that as an evaluator, you are interested in knowing only if something worked, if it was effective in doing what it was supposed to do. The second statement reflects the philosophy that evaluation makes claims on the value of something in relation to the overall operation of a Diversity intervention, project, or event. Many experts agree that an evaluation should not only assess program results but also identify ways to improve the program being evaluated. A Diversity program or initiative may be effective but of limited value to the client or sponsor. You can imagine, however, using an evaluation to make a decision (the second definition) even if a program has reached its objectives (the first definition).

For some, endorsing Diversity Evaluation is a lot like endorsing regular visits to the dentist. People are quick to endorse both activities, but when it comes to doing either one, many Diversity Practitioners are very uncomfortable.

Evaluation: An Essential Element of Success

Evaluation is an absolutely essential ingredient when you are attempting to close performance gaps or improve performance. It is the only way to determine the connections between performance gaps, improvement programs, and cost-effectiveness. Evaluation is one of the most cost-effective activities in diversity performance improvement, because it is the one activity that, if applied correctly, can ensure success. It is often resisted, however, because of the fear that it could document failure. Evaluation is the process that helps us make decisions about the value of all the activities we have been engaged in and whether they are a worthwhile investment for the organization. Without systematic evaluation we are left with “wishful thinking” or self-service impressions that are often wrong and sometimes dangerous.

All evaluation studies must satisfy two criteria: reliability and validity. Establishing these criteria up front will help you communicate your expectations to the C-Suite and any vendors who deliver programs and assist in your Diversity initiatives. Reliability, the simpler of the two, requires all evaluation methods give the same results each time we measure. This protects you against measures that change constantly and produce different results every time they are used, because of the measuring instrument. Reliability is relatively easy to achieve, yet its importance is often overlooked. To overcome this you must utilize specific Diversity science procedures and instruments for measuring the aspects of Diversity performance and goal achievement that are reflected in the initiative’s objectives, strategies and the organization’s performance gaps. Next, you have to standardize these procedures such that they measure in the same way every time. These activities can be perfectly compatible with the way correctly designed Diversity initiatives are structured and administered.

The second criterion, validity, requires that all evaluations measure exactly and only what it is supposed to be measuring. This criterion is one of the requirements most often violated in Diversity performance and other assessments. For example, if we attempt to measure the amount of knowledge employees gained in a Diversity Competency Training program using a “Reaction” form that asks them how much they learned, the results will indicate how much employees “think” they learned, not how much they “actually” learned. Reaction forms too often report high amounts of learning when little occurred and vice versa (Clark, 1982). Consequently, training reaction evaluation could be reliable but not valid in these cases, because the actual results were the opposite of what the invalid instrument reliably reported! If the instrument reported the same invalid result each time it was used, it is still reliable—which is why we need both reliability and validity for all evaluation activities.

An example of a valid measurement of learning would be a Diversity competency problem-solving exercise or memory test (provided they represented the knowledge and skills the participants learned during the training. The more you make use of Diversity sciences and research evidence about the event being measured, the better your chances of for validity. Performance evaluation systems such as the Hubbard 7-Level Evaluation Methodology, integrates these approaches in the process.

Conducting a comprehensive Diversity Evaluation is the only true way to know if Diversity and inclusion programs or initiatives are delivering the outcome results expected by key stakeholders. It is essential that Diversity Practitioners master critical Diversity and Inclusion evaluation methods using technologies that are rooted in Diversity ROI® science. Why? Because the perceived value and credibility of what we do to be seen as a true Business Partner and Professional depends on it!

 

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