What is needs assessment? Needs assessment in any part of an organization is a process of reflecting on the present and the past to determine what is working well and what might need adjustments or change.
What can an assessment measure? Assessments help to provide a current reality to various parts of an organization. For example:
- Work flow processes
- Working relationships
- Communication patterns
- Employee motivations
- Leadership strengths
- Client satisfaction
- Board development
An assessment cannot measure all of these realities in the same tool, but may be tailored for specific issues.
Why assess? Assessment is one kind of a tool that provides real-time, objective information for a variety of needs;
- Strategic planning
- Setting policy
- Team building
- Program development
- Mission verification
Types of assessment
- Individual assessment –reflecting on leadership style, work orientation, productive and unproductive behaviors – e.g., 360 degree feedback (from supervisor, staff, and peers).
- Systemic assessment – information gathered from different sections/operations of an organization
- Specific area
Board of directors
Who should be involved? Assessment is an invaluable tool when used appropriately. Assessment tools require pre-planning, adequate introduction to the purpose and objectives, and gaining agreement from those involved. If introduced properly, assessment can generate enthusiasm and commitment to plans going forward. When using individual assessment, confidentiality is extremely important so that the person and respondents can trust how the information will be used. Assessment should NEVER be used with the purpose of firing an individual – only for the purpose of strengthening and guiding future development.
How should results be used? It is essential that findings from an assessment process be shared with those people who were involved. Participants will have an expectation that their input is valued and that they will see the findings. They also will expect to see some changes in future operations. It is advisable to include these participants in any planning going forward. Using outside consultants to facilitate this process is preferred. Outside assistance guarantees objectivity and allows the leader (Executive Director, CEO, supervisor, manager) to participate in the discussion (often asking questions for clarification).
How to contact consulting assistance You may contact ECOC (Executive Coaches of Orange County) who offer extensive expertise in these subjects and serve pro bono (free of charge) in their volunteer commitment to serving the community. They may be reached at www.ECofOC.org or (949) 715-4561.