Thirty more shades of an unhealthy organisation

Yes, there’s another 30 – at least. Bob Little illustrates several more signs of an unhealthy organsation.

In addition to the 30 people-orientated issues that indicate an unhealthy organisation, which were published last week on TJ, here are 30 more. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive – but it represents the observations and thoughts of a number of HR and L&D professionals.

In no particular order, the further 30 shades of an unhealthy organisation are:

  1. Meetings proliferate – and regularly over-run.
  2. Meetings are impromptu, allowing no time for preparation. They’re poorly run and result in confusion regarding the actions to be taken.
  3. There are lengthy periods between decisions being made and implemented.
  4. There’s little enthusiasm for L&D, whose budgets are cut – and/or senior management appear disinterested in worker development.
  5. Having undertaken L&D activities, workers are discouraged from applying what they’ve learned.
  6. The organisation’s purpose, vision and mission become unclear – causing operational confusion.
  7. Those affected by decisions aren’t consulted.
  8. Workers’ roles and responsibilities are unclear and/or overlap.
  9. People don’t know what the other parts of their organisation do – and don’t want to find out.
  10. Senior management react with hostility to any perceived challenge to their status, self-esteem or authority.
  11. Worker resignations take senior managers by surprise – and there are no succession plans in place.
  12. Worker expectations are raised – then dashed by senior managers.
  13. Churn rates are high – especially among the most able.
  14. A blame culture becomes prevalent.
  15. Recruiters engage new workers who’re similar to themselves – to keep the status quo, through a fear of embracing the unknown, and/or prejudice.
  16. There are acknowledged ‘favourites’ – individuals and/or functions – in the organisation.
  17. Fashionable and/or quick ‘fixes’ are adopted to tackle major issues.
  18. Having offered support for initiatives, senior management support evaporates once problems arise.
  19. There’s a distinction between success and effectiveness. Successful people aren’t effective – and effective people aren’t recognised and rewarded.
  20. High performers feel under-valued, frustrated and, ultimately, driven from the organisation.
  21. Key roles turn over too quickly for job holders to make any impact.
  22. Cost-cutting measures are imposed – often without warning – adversely effecting morale and performance.
  23. Managers don’t know – or care – what’s unsettling and upsetting their workers.
  24. Workers waste their time – because of demotivation and poor supervision.
  25. Willing workers are overloaded – because they’re dependable. Less effective people have lighter workloads (and are more successful).
  26. Strong financial performance disguises people management and institutionalised organisational incompetence.
  27. Key performance areas aren’t personally targeted. So, no one’s at fault when these aren’t achieved.
  28. The organisation’s structure provides few opportunities for promotion or (sideways) progression.
  29. Over-formality or informality hinders performance. Familiarity can breed contempt, while having to ‘follow the rules’ can stifle creativity and change.
  30. Inappropriate people – who don’t have the necessary knowledge, skills or experience – are chosen for key groups, committees and working parties.

Richard Lowe, director of training and digital learning solutions at HR/ L&D consultants, Hewlett Rand, points out, “Other tell-tale signs that all’s not well in an organisation are when intolerance and prejudice strains interpersonal relations, or when empire-building and internal politics obscure organisational performance – demotivating workers.

“However, with some forethought and strategic planning, all these 60 – and more – signs of an unhealthy organisation can be countered successfully.”

Read part one here


About the author

Bob Little is a veteran of the L&D industry and founder of the Elearning Movers and Shakers list.




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