Yesterday I featured some anxiety reducing tips from Jeffrey Miller, author of The Anxious Organization, 2nd Edition: Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things. Want to know if your company is drowning in an ocean of anxiety? Consider the following questions from Jeffrey’s book:
- Do people take sides with other people instead of taking stands on issues? Do they form coalitions and/or cliques?
- Do people assert their territory to the detriment of the organization as a whole? Are feuding, back-stabbing, and turf wars a way of life?
- Do work groups tend to come to rapid agreement, with very little discussion or dissent?
- Do particular individuals or departments tend to be blamed consistently for organizational problems?
- Is there a problem with disruptive employee turnover? Are people constantly quitting due to job stress or dissatisfaction with the organization?
- When conflicts and problems arise, are people exhorted to show more “team spirit”?
- Does leadership send out conflicting instructions and mixed messages? Are organizational objectives contradictory or unclear?
- Do people tend to avoid conflict by avoiding each other altogether? Do they hide out in their offices or cubicles, neglect to return calls, etc.?
- Is “improved communication” considered the solution to all problems and conflicts rather than making decisions that are based on solid principles?
- Is high productivity emphasized as the key to organizational well-being? Do you get the feeling that people are overworked?
If your answer to most of these questions was an emphatic yes, you probably are dealing with a level of anxiety that’s too high to be healthy—for your employees or for the company itself.
“Anxiety, like anything else in life, is best in moderation,” says Miller. “A small amount is natural and positive. If there were no anxiety at all, no work would ever get done. But when the pendulum swings too far in the other direction, all sorts of counterproductive things can happen. Not only do employees get burned out, the organization tends to make a lot of bad business decisions that threaten its long-term survival.
“If you work for an overly anxious organization, it may be a good idea to seek a fresh point of view,” he concludes. “Sometimes it only takes one person to recognize the destructive cycle and break out of it. You could end up greatly improving your company’s profitability. In fact, you could end up saving its life.”