The ABCs of OHAs -

The ABCs of OHAs


By Kris Lea, PsyD OD (ABD)

In the practice of Organization Development, one of the critical steps for a practitioner is to gather organizational data. The purpose of gathering data is to assist with specific problems that are preventing an organization from meeting its mission, vision, or strategic goals. The Organizational Health Assessment (OHA) is one method to help organizational members (aka: employees or staff) to give confidential input. The following three steps are necessary for successful implementation of an OHA:

  1. Engaging a professional OD practitioner/consultant
  2. Receiving leadership and key stakeholder involvement
  3. Gathering data and providing feedback to the organization quickly

Step 1: Engaging an OD Professional: Educated and trained OD Professionals have the theoretical and practical knowledge to design and implement a custom OHA. Gathering OHA data within organizations can uncover sensitive and confidential issues requiring professional and neutral handling. OD Practitioners are trained to work within many different client systems to gather the right data, while maintaining confidentiality—both are critical to the OHA process. It’s important to note that while there are many industry-standard OHAs available, a custom OHA is frequently a better approach as the consultant can tailor the questions to the organization.

Step 2: Leadership/Key Stakeholder Involvement: An OHA can be thought of as a small project and as with any project, key project management principles should be applied. Leadership in the form of sponsorship is critical. Leaders who hire consultants to perform OHAs are empowering the consultant, yet they should provide communications and behind-the-scenes support. Other key stakeholders should be involved in the design of the assessment, specifically questions to ask (in staff surveys and interviews), and preferred terms for the target audience.

Step 3: Gathering Data and Providing Feedback Quickly: Once the scope of work is determined, consultants should move quickly into design, data gathering, and analysis. After the findings and recommendations are clear, the OHA project leader/sponsor within the organization should determine the method of providing data back to the participants of the OHA. Waiting too long on either of these steps is problematic. For example, if one waits too long to design and gather data, the organizational issues may have changed. Remember, we live in a rapidly changing world, which means rapid changes in the workplace. In addition, those staff who have participated in a survey or interview are waiting for the results; waiting too long can cause a dip in morale, which defeats the purpose of the OHA.

These are just the basics of creating and performing an organizational health assessment. KAI Partners, Inc. staff regularly works with clients to engage with them in the creation and implementation of customized OHAs. These assessments have led to organizational improvements through the implementation of targeted recommendations. Need an OHA for your business? Reach out today at

About the Author: Kris Lea, PsyD OD (ABD), is a professional Organization Development Consultant and Curriculum Developer/Trainer. She received her MS in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco, CA and is finishing her doctoral studies with Alliant University in Fresno, CA. Currently, Kris works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc. as a contractor working a variety of California State Departments. She is the Executive Director of a start-up non-profit, the American River Parkway Conservancy (ARPC), which intends to focus on a partnership with the City and County of Sacramento in the day-to-day operations of the parkway. Kris has lived in Sacramento for the past 15 years and is a fan of Old Sacramento, valuing both the history and present social capital of Sacramento.

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