People form the building blocks of any organisation. Whether it is the hugely inspirational story of transformation of a startup to a unicorn, or the riveting saga of phoenixing a former corporation to its erstwhile glory, Organisational Development (OD) specialists, with their miraculous interventions, have always been the messiahs of metamorphosis! However, not many organisations realise the immense potential of OD interventions in catalysing exponential growth for them. Rather, most of the times, it is seen as a post mortem tool during organisational crisis.
Mediocrity as the norm
Building an organisational culture of trust, openness, clarity in communication, and thereby, team synergy are the seeds to nurture a strongly rooted, value-based company, and a prosperous business. While people may be excellent individually, the dynamics of working as a team is such that it exerts the very best out of their grid. Most of the times, in unhealthy organisations, the enthusiasm among the ‘new hires’ is fizzed out by the old timers, who force these newbies to embrace mediocrity as a norm, as their means to survive in the organisation. These high inertia oldies, have successfully been able to fox the top leadership that their achievements are the benchmarks in the industry. Their favourite formula to sham is the ‘Brake & Accelerator method’, where in, they know how much throttle has to be given to justify their salary and when to stop doing anything more than mediocrity. Such groups are the start of cancer in an organisation. As this cancer spreads, and, the top leadership awakes to the ground reality, they are helpless, as weeding out this malignancy would mean firing almost the entire company!
The leadership ego
The worst cases are those wherein the top leadership themselves have become one with the group, and, are so badly blinded by their ego that they are unable to accept their leadership failure.
Typical characteristics of the founders of many Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
1. Are extremely closed to accept their employees as collaborators in decision making.
2. Render the pretence as democratic leaders, but never accept anyone else apart from themselves doing any major contribution for the organisation.
3. Not very keen on hiring a potent talent, who would challenge the status quo.
Such an attitude by the leaders is a boon for any shammer working for them, as it easily incubates them in their comfort zone. As the leadership insecurity divides the organisation into ‘We vs They’, groups with mediocrity as a culture are naturally formed. Over a period of time, a self-appointed leader, a favourite with both parties, emerges from among the employees, and hence, becomes lot more influential than the founders, and starts impacting almost everything related to their business, thereby making the leaders to feel powerless in their own company.
A battle for change
As the Founders themselves had facilitated the culture of being ordinary, the OD specialist has to battle for change, right from the Founders till the last employee in the organisation. The therapy in such cases is very painful, and the treatment commences when an organisation is on life support. Most of the companies do not even choose to give themselves another chance to live, and, only a handful brave out all odds to embrace glory.
Training is one of the most effective tools of OD Interventions. However, conditioning minds and transforming people does not happen overnight. Most of the executives are fully charged up after the training programmes. And, implementing their learnings is possible only when the overall culture in the company is suitably conducive. The best OD intervention is that which builds a process for ‘People Transformation’ with the required checks and measures, such that it becomes part of the organisational culture. After all, be it an individual or a company, success embraces only those with positivity!
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