I was on a coaching call recently and the topic came up about what the difference is between a healthy organization and a toxic organization. It’s really an interesting topic and one I’ve discussed many times with colleagues, clients, coaches and friends. While I’m sure there are infinite ways to answer this extremely complex question, I’ve come up with three key indicators that can help you decide if your company, team or small business is heading down the right path. Decide for yourself if you think they are relevant.

  1. Every organization I have ever encountered is not perfect, and neither is yours. Each of them through the course of doing business makes many mistakes. A healthy organization utilizes these mistakes as an opportunity to Learn Something vs. Blame Something (or someone). It’s these mistakes that allow the team to take a step back, look at how they are running their businesses, make the adjustments and most importantly communicate to the rest of the company the lessons learned in the process. A healthy culture is usually pushing the envelope and willing to take risks. These organizations recognize that mistakes are only mistakes if they fail to learn anything and they keep making the same ones over and over again.

Ask yourself:

How does my organization deal with mistakes?

Are we looking to learn something or blame something?

How do we share and apply what we’ve learned?

Are we making the same mistakes over and over again?

  1. Healthy organizations are willing to take an honest assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. As a result, the individual team members of these organizations are encouraged to do the same. A key indicator of successful organizations is that once the individual challenges or weaknesses of the team member are recognized these companies Don’t Allow the Weakness of the Individual to Lead to Failure. This person or team is provided with the proper tools, training and support so that the exposed challenges don’t hinder the team or the organization. Put quite simply, these organizations go out of their way to set people up for success rather than failure. Albert Einstein once noted that if you ask a dog to climb a tree he will forever believe he is incompetent.

Ask yourself:

As an organization, are we aware of our strengths and weaknesses?

How are we measuring our team members’ strengths and challenges?

How do we support those in our organizations who need help?

How are we setting our teams and individuals up for success?

  1. Healthy Organizations are Adaptable and Flexible. In the new normal of our businesses, creating a five-year strategic plan can be a waste of valuable time and resources. Usually by the time the plan is created it’s already obsolete. Successful organizations are more committed to creating guiding principles around who they are, how they behave and how they win. Then they over-communicate to the organization those core beliefs and values everyday in the pursuit of whatever opportunities or challenges happen to show up that day, week, month or quarter. This willingness to change and adapt while remaining true to who you are is a key separator for healthy organizations of the new millennium. Our friends at Apple have led the way with this. Their core belief and behaviors might look like this, At Apple we challenge the status quo, by making user friendly products that look amazing, and guess what, we all line up to buy them.

Ask yourself:

What are the guiding principles behind your organization? Would anyone agree with you?

How adaptable or flexible is your company, or are you stuck in the way you’ve always done it?

How does your organization respond to opportunities or threats?

How healthy is your organization?

Please comment below on other key indicators your have found that help define healthy organizations.

Thoughts for the week:

-If we aren’t grateful for what we already have… what makes us think we’ll be happy with more? – Unknown

-Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe… and stronger than you seem… and smarter than you think. – A.A. Milne spoken by Christopher Robin to his beloved bear Winnie-the-Pooh 

-Experience isn’t what happens to a person… It’s what a person does with what happens to them. – Aldous Huxley

-Doubt is a virus that attacks or self-esteem, productivity and confidence…Faith that you and your life are perfectly unfolding is the strongest vaccine. -Unknown 

-Do not regret growing old…It is a privilege denied to many. -Shelly Zavala


Looking forward to our next conversation!