The municipality of Haaksbergen has been engaged in various re-organizations. A cultural process to involve employees in the developments did not have the desired effect. Jansen: 'Everyone is actually a bit tired of it. But something has to happen. With the action learning method, we can get people on board. Not everything happens at once, the terms used appeal and it is action oriented. With small actions, you try and achieve something.'
'Our aim was more desirable behaviour: take more initiative and be more service-oriented. How do we interact? How do we address each other? What do we do if something isn't going well? These points also emerged from the scan we did at the start of the process. In the scan, we score high on the freedom that people experience in their work. On the other hand, some employees experience our culture as negative. We obviously knew a lot already. But it's nice to have your suspicions confirmed with a scan.'
‘The first session we discussed which important problems we see and where we can improve .’
Useful and concrete advice
Besides the input of the scan, the Haaksbergen action team uses results from interviews as a basis for its work. Jansen experiences the support she gets as extremely useful. 'In the first session, we discussed what we consider the main problems and where we can improve. What problems are we encountering? And what is the more desirable behavior we want to see? The action researcher who guided the process gave us appropriate tips and advice on what we could try.'
Small action - big effect
One of the first actions was the informal introduction of three new managers. Jansen: 'A simple action, which involved hanging up 'did you know' texts. The aim was to encourage people to get talking to each other. Which worked. At the coffee machine, people started to talk rather than grumble.' She feels that the action had a wider effect too. 'People are now more likely to approach their manager and take more initiative.'
'We're obviously not there yet. Such actions are pinpricks. But you can achieve a lot with something small. Because such an action has a surprising effect, you can disrupt a pattern. So, I can really recommend this process to other organizations. Due to its action orientation, it works really well. Particularly in combination with the scan. This has enabled us to perform successful actions, without it taking a lot of time and energy.'