Factors That Impact Organizational Performance

Having worked with several colleges over the past few years, I’ve seen many mission/vision statements with a common theme of helping organizations in their marketplace improve and grow. In order to accomplish this, colleges are transitioning from a mindset of “delivering training” to a mindset of “impacting organizational performance”.

Early in my career, I was quick to listen to the client needs, generate a proposal, and hope the training would achieve their desired outcome. Over the course of two years l was involved in at least six projects where we did exactly what the client asked, but did not achieve their desired outcomes. How could this happen? There were other factors impacting organizational performance of which we were not aware and, consequently, did not address.

So, who was to blame? Not us! After all, we did exactly what the client asked us to do. That’s when I had my “aha” moment. We can’t expect our clients, who may not have a background in organizational development, to do everything from analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. This is when I realized the business we are really in, and my success was contingent on understanding “organizational development” at a deeper level.

Thankfully, a few of my colleagues at Cuyahoga Community College (Cleveland, OH) earned master’s degrees in organizational development and industrial organizational psychology so I informally became their mentee as I observed how they approached similar opportunities in a different way. I credit both Jody Wheaton & Meghan Bilardo for taking a “sales guy” under their wing and sharing their knowledge and skills of this craft with me.

As you work to uncover opportunities, I encourage you to gather as much information as you can in the four major areas that impact organizational performance. These areas include:

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities (KSA’s)

What KSA’s do the employees currently have? What KSA’s are needed for employees to perform current job responsibilities and prepare for other roles within the organization? What do these KSA gaps look like? Which competencies are most valued by the organization?

Workplace Environment

What workplace factors are preventing employees from improving performance? Some of these factors may include organizational structure, roles, responsibilities, systems, processes, tools, culture, etc. Which workplace factors need to change in order for employees to become more productive and help them achieve organizational goals?

Motivation & Incentive

What is the current reward structure? How are employees measured and evaluated on their job performance? Is there a better way to motivate employees to apply new skills and behaviors?

Leadership Support

How are leaders currently supporting their employees? What kind of support are the employees asking for? How can we support leaders moving forward?

Gathering all of this data can be challenging, especially when your client gives you limited data in that first one-hour meeting and expects you to generate a proposal within a few days. I’ve often found myself wrapping up that first one-hour meeting negotiating a “needs analysis” that would provide us with the data we need to take the most appropriate actions. This may involve challenging your client’s way of thinking or the approach they are looking to take. If you can get your client to see the value in this level of data gathering and analysis early in the opportunity conversation, you’ve hit a home run. The advantages to collecting this data from a business development perspective include:

As organizational development practitioners we are responsible for achieving our client’s desired outcomes. If you have a background in organizational development, please consider sharing your knowledge and experience with other members on your team. If you can benefit from this knowledge, become a coachable “student of the game” and identify resources that will help you.

If you would like to explore how Contract Training Edge can help your team improve business development skills and develop your own team dashboard, please contact Greg Surtman at (216) 509-6398 or

Happy selling, my friends…