istock_000007071556xsmall1Surveys are quick to build and easy to distribute via the internet. The tough part is often selecting a diagnostic tool and performing the analysis.

When selecting a tool, opt for one that has proven to provide useful data and covers a variety of dimensions. It’s helpful if it is easily adapted to include your areas of focused interest.

One such tool is a model adapted from the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. The results generated by Baldridge winners are consistent and astonishing. The seven Baldridge categories provide a simple framework to assess the perceptions of your staff, proven time and time again to illuminate problem areas. These seven criteria are called the Criteria for Excellence and address the elements for the health and survival of your organization.

Leadership – Includes creating and sustaining values, organizational direction, performance expectations and customer focus that promotes performance excellence.
Strategic Planning – How the organization sets direction and how plans are put into action.
Customer Focus – Addresses how the organization determines the requirements and expectations of customers. It also addresses how the organization strengthens relationships with customers and determines their level of satisfaction.
Information and Analysis – Deals with the use of data and information in the organization to better understand areas for improvement and how the organization is performing.
Human Resources Development and Management – Determines how employees are encouraged to maximize their potential, as well as maintaining an environment conducive for performance excellence.
Process Management – Identifying how processes are designed, managed, improved and their cycle times reduced.
Business Results – Focuses on performance improvement in key business areas and how effectively these results are communicated throughout the organization.
Should you consider conducting an assessment? If the following symptoms sound familiar, give serious consideration to assessing your organization:

Profitability is slipping
Customers are defecting
Employee turnover is high
Market share is eroding
Internal conflict is the order of the day, excessive meetings, lack of personal accountability, communication breakdown, time management issues, reactive rather than proactive thinking (shall I continue?)
You spend more time reacting to competition
A baseline assessment allows you to see where you are today. If you are planning any organizational interventions, then the baseline will allow you to measure true progress in the future.

Adapted with permission from Grant Stewart, Performance Matrix LLC.