This photo (although a little creepy) does represent the traditional organizational structure most widely used in the world. When we look at organizational structures we often see them representing the hierarchy of authority, responsibility and influence. They do represent all of these, however, it is also important to look at the structure representing the flow of care throughout the organization. Organizations that have a "culture of care" show:
Caring at all Levels
Ideally, all people in the structure should feel cared for, supported and valued. With leadership comes the responsibility to ensure that no-one misses out on this.
This can be hard to achieve, as not all leaders of departments have the same awareness and commitment to caring. This can lead to some sections of the organization receiving lots of care while others can totally miss out.
What is also noticeable in the diagram, as well as in real life, is that the leaders who hold a more senior position do carry a lot of the weight for the success and health of the organization. Sometimes leaders higher up in the organization, while giving out care to those in their teams, may miss out on receiving care themselves. Often senior leaders can be quite alone in this unless their board actively assumes responsibility for their well-being rather than just their productivity.
Does your organization promote care at all levels?
Caring in all Seasons
Just like the traditional marriage vows which include the commitment "in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer", true commitment to your work team is shown in all of the seasons of life and business. Real care needs to keep flowing during the difficult times experienced by the team members and the organization itself.
How does your organization extend care in the hard times?
Caring in all Stages
There are three main stages of a person's involvement in an organization. It is vital to show care throughout these stages by providing:
- a warm welcome and help with assimilation into their role. There is a big difference between an effective and welcoming induction process and the "sink or swim" approach.
- support during their time with the organization. Hopefully, people will enjoy their work experience and stay for the long haul. It is important to not take those who have been there since day one for granted as newer members join the team.
- support as they leave the organization: There is so much that can be done to help people leave well. Even if they are asked to leave, this can still be done with dignity and respect. In the peak of redundancies and lay-offs a couple of years ago, some companies showed their true colours in the way that they handled this difficult and sensitive process.
Sadly, some organizations followed through on this poorly and with great insensitivity while others guided their staff with respect, care and generosity.
Some companies were able to provide coaching support for employees who had been made redundant to help them cope with the loss of their job and to look for new areas of employment. Having been involved in providing this type of coaching I saw first hand the difference a gesture like this can make to someone going through the turbulence of redundancy.
In what ways can your organization improve the way it cares for people when they start, continue and leave?
"Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast" - Deborah Fin
Steve Bagi is the principal of Actuate Consulting and a consulting psychologist and speaker who has over 25 years of experience in leadership and organizational development. He specializes in helping staff teams to understand and develop their strengths, leading to greater individual and team effectiveness. Although based in Australia, Steve works with leaders throughout the world.