Katherine Stitham, President and Founder, Integrative InquiryKatherine Stitham, President and Founder
Despite their best efforts, many organizations struggle to improve employee performance, increase accountability, build up qualified leaders, and address the career development requirements of a diverse and multi-generational workforce. They adopt numerous organizational development strategies to optimize their efficiency and productivity but are unable to utilize them due to lack of expertise. Here, HR development consultants play a vital role in helping companies develop, enhance, and reinforce strategies to build their capacity to change. Assisting businesses in strategizing their organizational development, Integrative Inquiry, an HR development consulting firm, delivers innovative and customized services to transform organizational culture. The company designs realistic and impactful HR strategies, specific to a clients’ goals and requirements. In an interview with Manage HR, Katherine Stitham, President and Founder of Integrative Inquiry, shares her insights on how their three-pronged approach helps firms develop progressive staff policies and procedures for enhancing employee engagement and productivity.

Please give us an overview of the Integrative Inquiry.

Integrative Inquiry is an HR consulting firm that delivers a holistic approach to culture change. Taking a three-pronged approach for organizational culture, we specialize in leadership training, team development, and organizational development. We train executives and management to be better decision-makers and create workplaces where employees thrive. Then, we develop the strategy to bring the organizational development process into sustainable long term impactful solutions.

What are the factors that led to the conception of the company?

While working in the leadership development space for decades in multicultural contexts to improve cross-cultural and intercultural collaboration, I repeatedly came across the same situation. Although firms continuously try new ways to improve the integration of diverse staff on their teams, there is a disconnect in the organizational culture. Despite having clear missions and policies within the company, the day to day interactions are not impactful or effective. Noticing all these complications in the culture change space, we put the foundation of Integrative Inquiry. Collaboratively working with businesses, we build various interpersonal communication strategies and proposals that are relevant and applicable explicitly to their work environment. By focusing on the learning journey, rather than just creating an end goal competency, we analyze the work processes and help businesses build capacity. As a result, by partnering with an organization, we assist them in putting structures in place and developing the skills internally on the team to make them self-efficient for making interventions. This set us apart from other consulting firms in the market. We have a collaborative network of consultants, who are experts in their own fields. We assign specific experts to every project that fits the particular needs of the clients.

What are the challenges that your clients currently deal with, and how do you help them address them?

Today, many businesses are realizing the need to address equity and inclusion in their organization. Their first instinct is often to conduct workshops or a two-hour training on bias for their teams but this tactic fails to achieve expected outcomes. The reason is the lack of psychological safety on the team to talk about issues that affect organizational development. Psychological safety is the underpinning of creating a positive culture as it creates space where people feel safe to engage and discuss challenges. My clients struggle with clear and transparent communication across all levels of their organization, specifically within management to engage, elicit, and facilitate difficult conversations whether on equity, conflict, or structural issues. We immediately dive into the parts that people don’t want to talk about to bring a specific vulnerability and transparency. This enables organizations to communicate effectively with consultants as well as with one another. Once the organization creates a space for courageous dialogue, the team gets empowered to bring up issues authentically and engage with one another without fear of repercussions.

What is the methodology that you follow while delivering your services?

We start with an intake assessment, meet with HR and then different teams within the organization to understand their culture to get the appropriate feedback on change requirements and fill communication gaps. Going through different aspects of organizational culture, we assess how the team feels included and connected. We also analyze the procedures and policies for hiring, onboarding, and promoting processes in the organization. After evaluating the work that the organization has already done for cultural change, we build on our strategies based on the client’s work rather than reinventing the wheel. We focus more on capacity building, training, and proper strategic planning, such as creating new policies and onboarding plan.

Could you give us a customer success story?

We partnered with a company that provided leadership skill building for healthcare professionals across the country to help them advocate for healthcare reforms. We examined their product, core values, and mission to formulate better policies. Working with their national team, we supported a training and development program internally for internal development. Then, these managers co-created and designed the leadership training into the more extensive extended network for all the different institutions and partners they had across the nation. They started training other facilitators and coaches on how to engage better and more authentically as leaders. This resulted in the better engagement and productivity.

What does the future look like for the Integrative Inquiry?

We have recently launched an online Institute that enables upper-level management and HR teams to work in the virtual space. The interactive and immersive courses allow managers to directly apply their learning to create an optimal work environment for culture change and increase engagement and satisfaction across their team. Continuously improving our online institute, we expand our capabilities to handle the emerging needs of HR teams. Amidst the 2020 crisis, many companies are finding it difficult to maintain their workplace culture remotely. A few firms, however, are trying to thrive by creating engaging workplaces virtually. We want to make this option more viable for other companies as we look to the upcoming years. We are continually building our capacity and bandwidth to design multiple online courses and program bundles tailored to clients’ requirements. In the HR world, excellent communication is a critical skill to foster teams and drive employee engagement and satisfaction throughout the company that tremendously impacts the bottom line. Therefore, we focus on interpersonal skills to communicate more effectively with one another and help organizations connect with the workforce and promote engagement.