Friday, February 15, 2008

We're Different Here

For years I've heard executives, managers, and supervisors speak of how inherently different their organizations are from other workplaces.

Upon further investigation, I've never found that to be true.

They describe strange management actions and problem employees and various attitudes as if those do not exist elsewhere but the exceptionalism is not exceptional.

There must be something comforting in the thought that only this place could have these problems. Certainly there are some differences but they are either minor or pertain to intensity and not nature. The old human and managerial tendencies will surface regardless of job titles or responsibilities. On occasion, the reason for the emphasis on uniqueness is a dodge - an effort to justify lower standards - and despite the temptation to tolerate diverse practices, accepting that line would make matters considerably worse.

Organizations, like civilizations, need connections with the outside world. Those that choose to sever such ties begin to turn inward and shrink. Isolated departments and branch offices need to be carefully watched for the first signs of this disease. Left unchecked, they will grow apart from the main organization and increasingly view company rules and requirements with suspicion. They will cease to identify with the larger group and start to run their own show. When that happens, it is almost a sure bet that the isolation will eventually produce trouble.

And when the situation worsens, one of the first excuses will be, "We're different here."

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