MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
January 2018
Dysfunctional Organizations

A dysfunction is an impairment in the way an organization functions. Dysfunction is not just applicable to organizations - we can also see dysfunctional behaviours in individuals and teams. Dysfunction within an organization may not be noticed at first because it occurs in small steps starting with inappropriate behaviours that go unchecked and tolerated.  
 
Some symptoms of dysfunctional organizations are lack of employee engagement, poor job performance, and attitudes of entitlement. Dysfunctional behaviours prevail because the organization has ineffective leadership.  
 
Dysfunction in an organization is ruled by rampant emotions. In other words, dysfunction relates to irrational behaviour. When people are frustrated, and their frustration is not quelled, they act out in ways that impact the entire organization. What is worse is that those experiencing the frustration may not even be aware that their feelings are impacting their work or others around them.  
 
Overruled with anxiety over their work situation, frustrated employees tend to disengage from the organization. As the employee disengages, everyone working with them also starts to disengage -  first from the employee and then, later, with the job and the organization. A cycle of mistrust is created.  
 
How do we eliminate the dysfunction in organizations? First, the dysfunction cannot be eliminated with implementation of such things as 360 feedback or performance reviews. Why? Because these programs do not address the psychological needs of employees and they do not provide opportunities for new experiences required to change behaviour.
 
According to Dr. Anita Dranitsaris, to change dysfunction, it is essential to incorporate desirable new and repeated experiences over time. As well, these experiences must be integrated into the context of the organization. A system of 'striving styles personality' employed by Dranitsaris helps individuals go through a process of building awareness of dysfunction, their frustrated needs and emotions behind it, and provides a road map for brain development to help lead and guide people to achieving their potential.  
 
When people achieve their potential, their dysfunctional behaviour also disappears. 
People Powered Pursuits
 
While frustrated employees need to be shown a way to eliminate their frustration, those around them also need a way to counteract the negative energy. It is the leader's job to identify unhappy employees and address their unhappiness immediately.
 
Here are six things that leaders can do to help their frustrated employees and eliminate dysfunction in the organization:
 
  1. Find out why the employee is upset. It could be something not related to work. However, just because it isn't a 'work' issue, it can (and usually does) impact work. Suggest to the employee that counseling may be beneficial to them.
  2. As soon as you identify the issue, ensure that it is dealt with right away. Do not wait until "the best time" to quash the problem. If you wait, the problem will only get worse.
  3. While working on resolving the behaviour, meet with the unhappy staff individually. Ensure confidentiality while working toward a resolution. Once the issue is resolved, it may be necessary to nip any rumours - do this by addressing staff with a concise statement. Remember to follow privacy rules when doing so.
  4. If staff demonstrate erratic behaviour in the office, keep your cool and speak gently, allowing them time to calm down. If behaviour escalates, remind them to remain professional. Sometimes people who aren't comfortable handling their emotions may need some time to process them before they are able to continue in a professional manner.
  5. Wanting to fix things immediately is not always the best practice because it does not work in every situation. We all want high employee morale because it drives efficiency and productivity, but it is not always possible. Stay positive and if the employee is worth saving for your company, be patient and keep working with the employee.
  6. As with any situation that could turn into something more unsavoury, remember to keep records of your conversations, meetings, and outcomes with the employee. These records may save you from a lawsuit.
If you are the type of leader who enjoys a happy and balanced workforce, you are an inspiration.  
 
A balanced organization depends not only on leadership style, but it needs leaders who are willing to make the culture meaningful for their employees and that means working with employees who are unhappy to bring them back to a happy state. Namaste. 
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)
 This past week, I had the pleasure of working with a group of young people at one of their fundraisers (a bottle drive). What struck me about this team is how they showed up for the job, picked up one part of the job and just dug in. There was no "I don't want to do this part of the job" or "I'm too tired for this" or any other excuse for slacking off. As people arrived, they just started on tasks on which others had not yet started. That's the sign of a great functioning team. Wouldn't it be wonderful to work in organizations where people were not confined by job descriptions or procedural minutiae, but, rather, by openness to tasks needing completion and available skilled workers? No arguments or debates or talk of which jobs are "below/above my pay scale," or whether the job "isn't in my job description" - just dedicated workers all working toward the same goal, no matter if it's the floor that needs cleaning or the packages that need packaging, or notices that need to be sent and so on. Who wouldn't want to be part of that amazing well-functioning organization? I know I certainly would. IMHO.
 
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."
- Henry Ford 

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