How to Identify Dysfunctional Organizations


  • Physical space is untidy and disorganized.
  • Desks are cluttered and messy.
  • Eating areas are posted with warnings, threats and admonitions.
  • logs are out of date or not kept at all.
  • File cabinets are not purged of obsolete material.
  • Chronic facilities problems such as heating, cooling, noise, air conditioning, or air quality problems.
  • Staff members effectiveness is impeded by inappropriate or poorly maintained office "tools" such as computers, phone systems, photocopiers, etc.
  • Chronic staff complaints about allocation and quality of space and equipment.
  • Management follow up and oversight may be lacking or take the form of nitpicking.
  • Personnel turnover is high.
  • Staff members complain about not being informed or being left out of important decisions.
  • People are unduly concerned about who gets credit or blame.
  • The office is divided with inter-office feuds, jealousy or bickering.
  • The organization itself has continual conflicts with other organizations.
  • Managers are overworked while other staff members have little to do.
  • Important documents frequently get lost or misplaced.
  • Phone calls are not returned, mail languishes unanswered.
  • Staff members have no idea what management thinks of their performance.
  • Terminations occur at short notice or come as complete surprises.
  • Certain staff members are singled out as favorites.
  • Staff members put signs on their desks like "It is had to soar with eagles when you work with vultures."

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