The Picture of Health

What a compliment it is when someone tells us, especially a doctor, that we are the “picture of health.” Drawing a picture like that would be difficult, but we know what it feels like; good, consistent energy, a positive attitude, a smile most days, and plenty of enthusiasm to get up each morning and do it all again. Without even knowing the internal bodily components that make up that feeling, we just know it feels good and right, and healthy overall. No aches, no pains, no stress, no drama.

At PRISCON, we believe that organizations can also be the the picture of health. But similar to the human scenario, it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what it looks like because for each company, or department within a company, it is a little different. Also similar to the human experience, we know better what it feels like to work in a healthy organization where job satisfaction is high, next level support is abundant, professional growth is encouraged, and feedback for work is constructive and constant. But it may not be easy to explain to someone on the outside exactly what makes it work.

picture of health

Those features of a healthy organization create an environment and culture where communication and collaboration are abundant. Health is not determined solely by profits, and people look forward to coming to work each day because they want to, not because they have to. And while there are plenty of people who love what they do and where they do it, there are probably more who love what they do but would prefer to do it someplace else because of an  unhealthy organization.

Organizational health is closely related to the care and keeping of its people. It’s an organization which realizes that the human capital in any business or non-profit is the most valuable resource and when employees are happy they work hard and remain dedicated. How to create and maintain that environment is truly a work of art and requires careful management of several moving parts. Of one thing though we are certain- it starts from the moment an employee walks through the door for the first time, to how he or she is “set up” among peers and colleagues, and ultimately how career growth is managed and encouraged.

In an unhealthy organization, it is likely easier to point out a variety of things that are wrong, whether related to people or process. But the challenge comes in understanding the exact issues and separating the symptoms from the problems. Is the organization poorly structured and therefore making people unhappy? Have the wrong people been hired for the past few years therefore contributing to a challenging and changing culture? Have incentives that were meant to inspire unintentionally created an environment of contentious competition? Were major company decisions made without any consideration or input from front line teams who have been highly impacted by a recent change? Was the human resources department the last group to find out it was your first day rather than the first?

In all likelihood, an organization didn’t start out unhealthy- it became that way. Whether through rapid growth, a few poor hires, an organizational change or even acquisition, by the time the challenges are noticed, it may appear to be too late. At PRISCON, we don’t think it’s too late. A healthy organization is defined by the people in it and with the right people in place, or the right training for the people already there, new organizational components can be implemented leading to new goals and rebuilding an organization’s health. This is where perspective is important. Often times, if we are in an unhealthy organization, whether at the departmental level or aggregate level, it’s difficult to see where the problem is. Think of it this way: if your knee hurts, you might think it’s just the knee, but a doctor is able to see the knee pain as a symptom of a larger issue like Arthritis. Here, self diagnosis, “I did something to my knee” could lead to much greater problems in the short or longer term future. It can also lead to treating only the symptom, not the problem. Hence, early and accurate diagnosis is incredibly valuable for not just acknowledging what and where the issues are, but also the root causes and then ultimately a method for developing a solution.

And so, we are curious. How do you feel in your work environment? Is your organization healthy? Is your department healthy? Do you need the business equivalent of a doctor for a diagnosis and then to get back on track? See how your answers fit with these questions.