Organisational Paradoxes

There are many paradoxes in organisations – elements which are actually under tension, yet to be successful, an organisation must provide both elements. I will call them Organisational Paradoxes.

For example, the need for strong personal reputation and career growth vs the requirement for strong individual contribution to the business / organisation goals and growth aspirations. This is especially true in research organisations, such and universities, and legal organisations.

For example, a university must manage its research environment to maximise its publications output and grant income, and this may be at odds with an individual researcher who must protect his or her career opportunities through their personal research reputation. It is an environment where strong individualisation (rather than team based achievement) is required, promoted and rewarded “on the ground”, yet performance at the higher levels (e.g. faculty level) is measured in collective output.

Culture vs Drive

Another Organisational Paradox that I have been considering recently is the tension between the need to provide a strong, kind and caring culture within an organisation to attract and retain staff, and the need for drive, execution, a one-pointed focused, passionate achievement of goals and growth targets and the ability to meet tight deadlines. It is a challenged faced by many organisations and today’s economic climate – skills shortages and financial uncertainties – exacerbates that challenge.

Bias Unbalances the Workplace

Biasing an organisation towards one aspect of the paradox produces and unbalanced organisation. For example, focusing on an employee-centric culture without an eye on execution capacity will slow the achievement of strategic goals and may impact the day to day performance of the organisation. Focusing on a culture of execution, drive and output without building an environment where your staff are treasured for their strengths and abilities (tangible and non-tangible) that they bring to your workplace will be an unfriendly place to work and retaining staff will be a challenge.

Balance the Paradoxes

The ability to identify Organisational Paradoxes and achieve the right balance of the competing elements signifies a mature approach to performance and contributes to the success of a Performance Focused Organisation.

Some thoughts for you:

  • What are the Organisational Paradoxes in your organisation?
  • Are they in balance and achieving the right outcomes?
  • What is it that you need to put in place?

Can we help?

If you would like assistance with balancing paradoxes, give us a call.

Indra Process and Performance Consulting

All articles that appear on Indra Process and Performance Consulting’s blog are copyright Indra Process and Performance Consulting 2008.

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