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Organization Self-Assessment in Quality Accreditation: What a Hard Talk

The Quality Accreditation Life Cycle includes multiple steps and among them there is an essential one that we call it The SELF-ASSESSMENT. By definition, Self-Assessment is a process where an organization compares its activities and performance against pre-set standards of excellence. The purpose of self-assessment is to identify the organization quality performance practices as well as quality gaps, and consequently, find opportunities for future improvement and success.

Because this step starts early in the accreditation life cycle, it usual conducted by a team that demonstrates, at this phase, high level of chaos and confusion. At this moment, of the life cycle, the organization staffs are continuously debating on questions like, why do we put extra work on and load the busy messy staff, why should we do it and what is in it for us. This stage of rejecting versus accepting accreditation demonstrates the new challenge to the organization and the expected difficulties for teamwork.

Without doubt, Self-Assessment is a teamwork task and therefore, all the obstacles and challenges of teamwork will be present and sound such as struggle and competition; engagement and detachment; idea generation, acceptance and rejection, humble leadership support and reluctance of team involvement. To overcome these challenges, it needs an effective leader who can coach the team and works hard to facilitate the team transition from the low productive Forming Stage, and peacefully passing the Storming Stage to the Norming Stage and finally reach to the highly productive Performing Stage of team development.

Nevertheless, it is essentially to know which team members should express the team. The Self-Assessment Team should ideally consist of group of motivated and committed staff of diverse background. Principally, the team should include a member who is quality/ accreditation oriented with good teaching skills to clarify the standards. Equally important, to have a member with extensive experience and knowledge of the organizational structure, committees, people in authority and people with talents to provide the team with the needed resources and facilitates the team works and movement throughout the organization. Likewise positive add, is to include a knowledgeable member who can relate standard criterion to the available organizational legislation, policy, practices and circulars. Additionally, there is a room for mid-senior and new generation of staff and their drive, ambition and enthusiast power to meet the process challenge and confront other staff frustration and resistance for participation and involvement.

Different models have been deployed to do the self-assessment and the one I preferred most and found it easy to apply on the ground is, when you go through it as a Check List of: Criterion met; the proof; Criterion not met; the future objective. The coach of the diverse team can start by reading a standard and related criterion. Then, every member of the team feedbacks in her/his Department Check List with answer whether this criterion is implemented in the department and there is a proof on its implementation or, this criterion is not fulfilled on the ground. By doing this, it will be possible to identify the quality practices within the organization and the necessary actions that are needed to maintain them. More importantly, there will be potential to list down standards and corresponding criteria that are not fulfilled and consequently, include them as objectives in the future Organization Quality Plan.

Then again, it is required to admire that, Self-Assessment is not an easy task as it seems on paper. It takes multiple sessions and some of them might not be related to Self-Assessment itself, but related to its consequences. At the beginning, team participation, feedback and input are expressed in terms of frustration, violence and dissatisfaction. Chaos and hard talk are a common impression after early session. That is why, it needs a controller who can manage the session to be organized, direct the hard talk to be productive, complete efficiently the self-assessment on due time and effectively as it ought to be written.

To wrap it up, Self-Assessment is the first and true challenge for an organization going through the accreditation cycle. It requires an effective and efficient leader to coach and navigate the ship through the early stage of chaos and team storming and to achieve harmony between the accreditation team members in order to identify the organization quality practices and quality gaps.

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