Any organization (i.e. family, team, company, country) faces over time various distributions of member perceptions. These can be aligned, dispersed or polarized. In this post, I am sharing a few thoughts on how to deal with a polarized organization.
Organizational polarization can be defined as a division into two sharply contrasting groups within the same family, team, company, country. If transient, it can lead to reconsideration and subsequently to evolution. If more permanent, this will be detrimental to the organization growth.
How to identify a polarized organization ?
The first question is how do we identify and measure polarization (i.e. is it 50-50, 30-70… ?). They are tools such the Diagnostic of Systemic Resonance of Organizations that help assess any organization from 9 different but interconnected angles such as vision, meaning, plan, authority, valorisation, securitisation, support, willingness and pleasure. Results will be displayed as a distribution (aligned, dispersed or polarized) with a percentage. This will allow to identify for example if members are aligned to say there is a clear and inspiring vision, or to say there is not.
The intention of the leadership team
Then comes a tricky question. Is the leadership team willing to get rid of this polarization, and hence better align the organization to grow faster ? Or are they happy to have some polarization to better control the members (« divide and conquer »). This is where we reach the limit between a healthy and a toxic organization. This is therefore essential to be clear on that to position yourself whether this is or not acceptable to you.
A few tips for a better alignment of your organization
Let’s assume that you are looking for a better alignment within your team/organization, and that you are clear on the root of the polarization (e.g. vision, strategy, governance, etc.). It is now time for an open discussion with all team members (can be done through well-designed surveys if big group) to collect the different views, needs, beliefs and fears. Then the collective intelligence of the group should be leverage to unlock what needs be and reach the next level. I personally recommend to call a (team of) professional(s) to facilitate the workshop. You will thus save a huge amount of time, energy, money. Your team will also most probably enjoy more the experience.
Check this POST if you want to know more about the criteria for a successful organization.
If you are facing such a situation, or looking to assess if this is the case or not, let’s have a quick chat together.