Dysfunction. Let me say that again: Dysfunction. Hearing that word, did you cringe a little bit inside? If so, it’s because the word has succeeded in getting a bad reputation.
The bad news is that organizational dysfunction is rampant. Dysfunction simply refers to something that is “ill functioning.” Maybe it never worked well, or maybe something happened, such as the rapid growth of your organization’s program offerings.
The good news is that having dysfunction is not a judgmental label, and it’s certainly not a death sentence. What it is is an opportunity…a wake up call, perhaps.
The good news is dysfunction can be identified and addressed. There just needs to be commitment to the process.
Where Dysfunction Lurks
Here are common areas where dysfunction lurks (and not always in plain sight either):
“In my organization, we do things the same way we’ve always done them ‘because we’ve always done it this way.’”
“In my organization, management makes decisions but doesn’t communicate them well to those of us who are affected.” “Our staff doesn’t like change.”
“In my organization, we’re not encouraged to come up with new ideas.” “Sometimes departments don’t work well together.”
“In my organization, we don’t stay very current with technology and best practices.”
Can we fix dysfunction using our own resources?
The answer is probably “maybe.” Most organizations I’ve worked with chose not to (or can't) fix dysfunction on their own. Here are some key reasons why not:
- Staff are simply too busy with the multiple job duties they’re currently juggling.
- Internal staff are “too close” to it, meaning that they struggle to have the objective lens that they need in order to understand and fix the problems.
- Staff don’t typically have the well-rounded expertise to work on organizational development issues.
- Often, dysfunctional issues are interrelated and addressing them requires working across multiple departments. This makes it complicated and requires a level of authority that just a few people within the organization typically have.
Addressing dysfunctional areas within your organization can be a complicated endeavor, one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’ve seen several initiatives kick off with capable internal resources leading the charge, only to have the initiative get dropped because something else was put on their plate that was deemed higher priority. After a few of these incidences, staff can lose faith in a leadership team’s ability to address internal problems.
Take the Steps to Make Dysfunction Functional
My passion is taking a holistic approach to fixing dysfunction. Often the problems that people come to me with are just the superficial symptom of a deeper, underlying issue. Solutioning is not about slapping a band aid on a wound to get you through to half time. It’s about looking at how you got the wound to begin with - and adjusting accordingly in order to stay heathy.
Free Help?…Yes, Indeed.
As the seasons change and the holidays approach, I always start reflecting on the year, the “goodness” I see around me, and all the opportunities for more good work to be done. In that spirit, I would like to give back to the community by offering one organization in the New Mexico Nonprofit Directory a free consulting session.
If your organization has dysfunction that you are committed to addressing, I hope you will consider applying for the free session.
This short application must be submitted by 11/15/15 to be considered.
I look forward to connecting more with our community and helping you all excel in your missions!