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Archive for August 12th, 2011


 

The International Institute of Management (IIM) released a white paper on the symptoms of dysfunctional organizations and dysfunctional leadership. Bad politics is a disease that can drain organizations of productive potential, and the IIM white paper also proposed some possible cures to help afflicted organizations out of the rut and back to health.

The white paper describes symptoms of bad leadership, which upon reading, have a strong correspondence to a lack of critical thinking:

3. Performance Diagnosis Checklist

Even fast-growing and profitable companies can develop bad internal politics and unproductive work habits that will eventually lead to declining performance. It is true that the larger the organization, the more susceptible it is to the breakdown of communication, the emergence of management silos and misalignment. Yet, in my experience many of the smaller companies also suffer from similar problems. When management tends to focus so much on one management area, e.g., sales, and has no time to manage the internal organization challenges, dysfunction creeps in and takes hold. To build and sustain high-performance teams, leadership and human resources managers should keep an eye open for the following symptoms and treat the root causes before it becomes too late.

Dysfunctional leadership symptoms and warning signs:

  • Dictatorial Leadership: Management that does not allow disagreements out of insecurity or arrogance.
  • No 360 Degrees Feedback: There is limited or no leadership performance feedback.
  • Personal Agendas: Recruitments, selections and promotions are based on internal political agenda, for example hiring friends to guarantee personal loyalty at the expense of other highly performing and more-qualified employees.
  • Political Compensation: Stock options, bonuses and perks are not fairly linked to performance.
  • Inefficient Use of Resources: Budgets are allocated between business units or departments based on favoritism and power centers rather than actual business needs.
  • Empire-building Practices: Managers believe that the more people they manage and the bigger the budget, the higher the chance that they will be promoted. This results in raging battles around budgets, strategies and operations.
  • Unequal Workload Distribution: You’ll find some departments are underutilized while other departments are overloaded.
  • Too Much Management: There are many management layers in the organization, thus, hindering communication and resulting in slower execution.
  • Fragmented Organization Efforts: Interdepartmental competition and turf wars between rival managers lead to the emergence of silos, which results in communication gaps. Management silos almost always result in fragmented and duplicated budgets and projects, thus wasting valuable company investments.
  • Too Much Talk: Plans are heavy on talk but light on action. In a political corporate culture, image management becomes far more important than actions.
  • Ineffective Meetings: Argumentative and heated cross-divisions meetings with discussion and language focusing on point scoring and buck-passing rather than sharing responsibility and collaborating to solve the problem
  • Lack of Collaboration: Every person for himself/herself. Low sense of unity or camaraderie on the team. The key criterion for decision-making is What is in it for me?
  • Low Productivity: Management wastes more time and energy on internal attack and defense strategies instead of executing the work, innovating and overcoming challenges. Critical projects fall behind on deadlines, budgets and performance targets (e.g. sales, market share, quality and other operational targets).
  • Constant Crisis Mode: Management team spends most of their time on fire fighting instead of proactive planning for next-generation products and services.
  • Morale Deterioration:Muted level of commitment and enthusiasm by other teams. Even successful results cannot be shared and celebrated due to animosity and internal negative competition.
  • Backstabbing: Backbiting among the executives and managers becomes common and public.
  • Highly Stressful Workplace: There is a high rate of absenteeism and a high employee turnover rate.

The IIM paper provides a good basis of how critical thinking can help (or the lack of can destroy) organizations from a practical perspective. 

Read more here.

Download the paper here.

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