After the Data: Taking Action on ClimateQUAL® Results

Elizabeth Mengel, Judith Smith, Elizabeth Uzelac


Objective – This paper discusses the actions taken by the staff development and training (SD&T) team at the Sheridan Libraries and Johns Hopkins University Museums in response to results of a ClimateQUAL survey.

Methods – The team administered the ClimateQUAL Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment in March 2009 to the 150 staff members of the museums and libraries, and 80% responded. To get at the root of some of the results, the team conducted 23 focus group sessions over the course of two months. In each 90-minute session, 8 open-ended questions were used to probe the staff’s thoughts on the survey results and elicit concrete suggestions for moving forward. Participants were asked to discuss their personal experiences with six areas of concern: procedural justice, distributive justice, structural facilitation of teamwork, psychological safety, communication, and leadership. One year after the original ClimateQUAL survey, the team administered a one-question follow-up survey.

Results – The team analyzed and coded the notes taken during the focus group sessions and developed three discrete written summaries for each session: a brief summary of themes, a list of specific actionable suggestions, and a general description of specific scenarios aired in the sessions. From these analyses, the team developed two types of recommendations: quick tactical actions and long-term strategic recommendations. Strategic recommendations were developed in three main areas: fostering a sense of global ownership of organizational issues, improving organizational communication, and improving leadership and facilitation of teamwork. With these recommendations, the team charged managers to take broad ownership of a plan for individual actions. The results of the one-year follow-up survey were mixed. Staff perceived positive change in communication, but indicated that the areas of procedural and distributive justice, psychological safety, and transparency in decision making continued to require improvement.

Conclusion – The work of the SD&T team continues, and it is hoped that ClimateQUAL will serve as the foundation for future assessments of organizational health.

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