Diagnosing Your Company

Is your organization fit enough to win?

We’ve all seen the footage of the unfortunate gazelle falling prey to the lion. That gazelle is the one unable to outrun the cat due to its health or fitness level. While this is not a pleasant sight to behold, it is an example from which leaders should learn. Whether we’re talking about a partnership of two or a corporation of 200,000, even great organizations can become sick and face tremendous challenges.

Simply put, organizational health is the idea that, for an organization to survive, grow and perform, it must be healthy. It’s critical to understand and address the underlying issues that may be causing problems or limiting results.

Measures That Matter

Athletes know that winning depends on fitness levels and preparation. Former Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

Athletes reach high levels of performance by first focusing on personal health and practice. Key health and performance measures reveal fitness levels and readiness to perform as well as where improvements must be made.

The same is true in business. Unfortunately, just as in our personal lives, we often neglect our health because we are too busy to give it the attention it needs. It’s akin to being so busy driving our car that we don’t have time to get gas. Eventually, we will grind to a halt.

Don’t Try to ‘Fix the Culture’

Working on perceived culture issues is not the place to start. Organizational culture is nothing more than the visible manifestation of organizational health. Dealing with cultural issues is important, but culture is not something actively changed. Culture improves when fundamental organizational health issues are addressed.

Symptoms of an organization with health concerns may include:

» Good employees are leaving the organization for new opportunities.
» People seem unclear about the company’s most important objectives.
» Employees are dissatisfied with compensation and other benefits.
» People don’t seem to be making personal connections with co-workers.
» Limited professional growth and movement between jobs is causing stagnation.
» Interpersonal conflict, discord, mistrust and political gamesmanship are occurring often.
» Employees are unclear about personal roles and responsibilities.

The only way to ensure that an organization survives, grows and performs is to measure, monitor and improve its health. It’s not enough to have the best strategy, strongest product line and coolest marketing.

In this competitive world, only the fittest survive. Remember, even the smartest gazelle in the herd becomes lunch if he’s not healthy and faster than the slowest lion in the field.

This is the first of a two-part series on organizational health. Next month, we’ll talk about some of the key health factors for organizations.