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A 16-Step Program to Make Your Dysfunctional Organization Functional

Last month we discussed in detail why an organization is dysfunctional. This month we take a look at specific steps everyone should take to change behaviors in order to make your organization a healthier environment.

This 16-step program can help any company come up with a plan to improve productivity and become a better functioning business organization.

1) Four times a year assemble people into groups of six to eight for one hour. Ask them two questions: What do we need to do to make our establishment a better place to work? Then, how do we solve these problems we’ve uncovered?
2) Never lie. If you lie, admit it as soon as possible. Ask forgiveness. Move on. (NOTE: Never assume your employees, bosses or coworkers don’t know. People aren’t stupid.)
3) When you hire people, you make an investment. If they need help in certain areas, such as managing time, communicating more effectively, etc., give it to them. A good boss supports people, trains the heck out of them and demands—and deserves—a lot.
4) Allow for mistakes. Buck Minster Fuller said, “Mankind is the only being designed by his creator to learn solely by making mistakes.” The problems in any organization are not the mistakes we make; rather, it is what we fail to learn from those mistakes.
5) End all criticism and blame. It’s vicious, destructive and a waste of time. In its place when you have a frustration, tell the person what behavior you want in place of the one they displayed. Focus only on positive actions. When you reward behavior, it continues; if you ignore behavior over time, it tends to go away.
6) Create goals. Once a year sit down with each associate and staff person (partners can do this with one another). Discuss what you would each like to improve, increase, enhance, add, eliminate, do sooner; better, faster, more of, differently.

Once a month, meet to discuss specifically what you have done the previous 30 days and what you will be doing over the next 30 days to accomplish those yearly goals.

Focusing on your monthly goals, once a week look at the minimal amount you must do (above and beyond your daily tasks) to meet your objectives.

Each day plan with the following questions in mind: What will represent the highest and best use of my time today? What has to be done today? What can I do today that will allow me to end the day feeling truly satisfied while giving others the support and work they need?

7) Create an environment where people feel safe asking for help. When people ask, listen. Don’t tell them what they need. Help them. If you are unable to solve the problem, at least listen. In a healthy environment, people gang up on the problem—not each other.
Applaud success. Expect excellence. Make people feel important and valued. Be as generous with your praise as you have been with your criticism.
9) Don’t talk, dialog. Communicate back and forth. Mirror what the person said to make sure you’ve heard them. Although you may not agree with what the person said, let them know that you understand what they said makes sense.
10) Remember, change happens from the bottom up; but the environment for change is created from the top down. An organization is most likely not going to be a pure democracy.

People aren’t equal in the sense that they don’t have equal responsibility, liability and accountability. However, everyone does deserve to be heard and feel valued.

11) Decide what you want to stand for. Is your primary goal to make money, deliver a service, keep clients happy or grow (develop) people? Reasonable, caring people can agree on which factor goes first, second, etc. What is important is that people in the same organization are “rowing in the same direction.”
12) Allow people the right to make decisions in the daylight. If they aren’t doing the work, tell them your concerns and help them. If their future is not with the organization, tell them and allow them to leave as quickly and graciously as possible. Help them in any way you can (severance, outplacement, making contacts, etc.)
13) Look to past mistakes to learn how to improve the process of picking people more successfully in the future. Listen to everyone for ways to improve.
14) Owners and bosses —get out of your offices and wander around more. Ask people how they’re doing and what they need.
15) Associates and staff—offer more solutions and fewer complaints. Show appreciation when a boss goes to bat for you.
16) Don’t assume these suggestions won’t work. Try them first.

This is by no means the only way one can make a work environment more productive. An entire cottage industry has sprung up around the issue of poor communication and low morale and how they affect productivity. Seek other sources of information on how to improve your organization.

What you have now is a starting point, a point of departure from dysfunction. Take the first step by changing your own behavior and you will be amazed at the progress you and your organization will begin to make toward improved organizational health and well being.

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CTS Consulting, Inc

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Baltimore, Maryland 21214

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