Taking an integrated approach to Organisational Development creates a positive employee experience

When acquired in late 2015, Affinity Education Group (‘Affinity’) was a fragmented organisation consisting of a number of acquisitions of smaller early education organisations and centres. The organisation was in need of strategic and organisational realignment with a focus on the introduction of improved systems and process, and rapid capability uplift.

One of the first steps taken was that a new management team was put in place and they set the new strategic agenda for Affinity moving forward.

Using the ‘Mckinsey 7S Framework’ as a foundation, Lee Hanscomb, working as Affinity’s Organisational Capability Specialist/Psychologist, designed, developed and delivered a number of complementary organisational development initiatives to address the identified workforce issues.

The over-arching strategic organisational realignment and design program, and each individual initiative were strongly underpinned by the application of organisational psychology theory and practice. Lee also ensured alignment to Affinity’s organisational values, strategy, systems, and objectives.

An initial project was to identify Affinity’s critical processes. Extensive consultation with stakeholders plus a ‘mixed methods’ assessment approach of desktop analysis, focus groups, surveys and interviews were undertaken in order to obtain reliable and valid process related data. 

This led to the development of an organisation-wide performance improvement tool (the ‘Quality Review’) based on the organisation’s critical processes. Lee ensured that the core processes needed to achieve organisational strategic objectives were embedded into the Review, with specific performance indicators developed for each strategic objective/process area. 

“We tested the Review in a pilot area and feedback from this trial was analysed and used to further increase its validity and reliability before a wider roll-out,” Lee says.

“Drawing on empirical research from relevant areas such as goal-setting and coaching, the Review was developed with a strength-based coaching focus in mind. This ensured it moved past being applied as an ‘audit’ and was instead a robust and well-received performance enhancement tool implemented by Affinity’s Quality Team.”

Following on from the implementation of the Quality Review, Lee developed an Enterprise-wide Organisational Competency Framework. Like the Review, the framework was aligned to Affinity’s strategic and commercial goals and its design built on extensive internal and external research.

“The resulting evidence-informed framework was firmly embedded in talent, performance and succession systems. This ensured employees being selected into, or promoted within the organisation met competency requirements and/or their development needs were clearly highlighted,” says Lee.

“In addition to the development of tools, systems and frameworks, we implemented a number of complementary people-focused initiatives to ensure a rapid uplift in skills and capability.” 

This included partnering with Griffith University’s Work and Organisational Resilience Centre to provide coaching for leaders, implementing mentoring programs for critical roles, designing and developing high-potential leadership programs and introducing innovative operational and strategic tools such as ‘Playbooks’. 

When training was required, evidence-based training methods such as blended and experiential learning were adopted to enhance training outcomes and ensure a high transfer of learning.

 “We took a comprehensive, integrated and strategically focused approach to implementing a wide range of organisational development systems and people initiatives. This ultimately produced excellent organisational improvements for Affinity’s workforce and the business” says Lee.

Affinity’s intervention was recognised for its outstanding achievement and innovation in Organisational Psychology when it won the Australian Psychological Society’s Workplace Excellence Award for Organisational Development in 2017.

Lee says that the Award showcased the many ways in which organisational psychology is used in workplaces such as Affinity to transform outcomes, improve the bottom line, deliver quality services, and create a positive experience for employees at all levels.