Organization ILL-Health

5 Tell-Tale Symptoms of an Unhealthy Organization

1.  Assumption-Based Leadership. Assumption-Based Leadership You, as leaders of your organizations, ASSUME that you have more top-team cohesion and clarity around your Vision and purpose than you actually have. Sure you’ve got the organization charts and the specific job titles, and you clearly communicated your strategy at your last full annual planning session. BUT we all know what ASS-U-ME makes, right?

2.  Pragmatic/Opportunistic Decision-Making. Pragmatic-Opportunistic Decision-Making Your top team players make decisions based on pragmatism and opportunism. They seem like good ideas at the time but do they fit with your guiding principles, core values, and overall business strategy?


3.  Multiple ‘Top Priorities.’ Multiple Top Priorities You and each of your functional leaders have between 5 and 7 top priorities. You’re all trying to do everything, all at once. Nobody is mindful of the true purpose of your existence. In truth, a healthy organization works on an agreed, single, over-riding priority, for a period of time. All objectives, actions, systems, and procedures should be guided by thematic goals that flow from your Vision.

4.  You have no strategic ‘playbook,’ No Strategic Playbook or if you have, it’s too wordy, long, and complex. As a consequence, it sits on the shelf, gathering dust and being ruefully ignored.

5.  Ego, politics, and dysfunctionality Ego, Politics, and Dysfunctionality abound in smart, but yet unhealthy, organizations so much, that we tend towards complacency and acceptance, saying things like: ‘it’s just human nature’ or ‘commitment to a team is as important as commitment to the Vision.’

Step-by-Step Business Fitness Program

Step-by-Step Fitness Program

Make time for at least 2 days off-site, working on the Two Team Success Factors:

1.  Team Cohesion

2.  Creating clarity of purpose

Use these days so the team comes out with a solid foundation of ‘working trust’ between them and a commitment to collaboration around the answers to 6 critical questions:

  1.  Why does our business exist? In an ideological sense, just how do we make our little corner of the World a better place?
  2.  What are our core values?
  3.  What do we do exactly?
  4.  What is our plan for success? Our strategy!
  5.  What is most important for us to do in the short term?
  6.  Who is responsible for doing what?

In order to get honest answers and commitment from your team on those questions, start by working on Patrick Lencioni’s ‘5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.’

  • The Five Behaviors PyramidBuilding vulnerability-based trust
  • Encouraging constructive conflict (We use the Everything DiSC behavioral analysis tool as a terrific starting point for this.)
  • Achieving commitment and buy-in, through the simple expedient of ending every meeting with the 3 ‘Ws’: Who will do What by When, both a summary and a clarification of the meetings’ outputs
  • Building in ‘peer-to-peer’ accountability
  • Focusing on team results, not on individual maximization

The next step after your off-site is to pull together your strategic playbook: a short, clear, and concise summary of the answers to those 6 questions above. When you are certain that you already have the top-team commitment and the finalized playbook, then business becomes all about 3 things: communication, more communication, and then still more communication.

This is the only sure way to achieve whole organization cohesion that flows from your new-found top-team cohesion. It will demand some form of initial communication, followed by continuous repeated reminders from you and your team using every form of media at your disposal, but always with a consistent message.

The last step in your fitness program is for you and your leadership team to review and align all of your systems and procedures in the light of your playbook. This covers every employee ‘touchpoint’ from recruitment through orientation, performance management, reward and recognition, and all the way to retirement.


At PBC, we are excited to hear what you think and how you are getting on.  Call us for a free consultation on your organization’s health.

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