When is your organization most vulnerable to decline? Sometimes when you least expect it. Here are the top six seasons when organizations are most vulnerable to a crisis.
1. After a crisis
That’s right, AFTER it is over. During a crisis, a lot of people are paying attention to the vital signs. However, once it is over, organizational leaders and members either swing towards extreme over-reaction (becoming the opposite of what they once were) or take a hold-steady approach. Both strategies can have unintended and damaging consequences. Settling too long into a position of safety can be as deadly as the crisis itself.
2. When a key leader is leaving
Even when leaving for a normal reason like retirement, some leaders really never want to leave and drag their feet. And some boards or owners poorly manage the transition process. In addition, political behavior often becomes more visible and active since a void is beginning to emerge and some people see that as their opportunity to fill it according to their desires.
3. When a disruptive external event happens
External disrupters do happen. Financial markets do crash. Wars do emerge. Political unrest can surface. A game-changing technology (such as online shopping, college and banking) can redefine how things are moving forward. During such times, our organizational landscape can be reshaped like a meteor hitting earth. And since people and organizations are slow to adapt and pivot, their response time may result in losing their position and influence in the market.
4. When things are going extraordinarily well
Leaders often fear when their organization is struggling. This makes sense since this could be a sign of serious problems ahead. However, leaders should pay careful attention when things are going well, since at such times they can become over-confident, feel invincible, and dabble in unrelated ventures resulting in a loss of focus. Remember, more climbers die coming down a mountain than going up!
5. When a new leader is hired
Yes, you read that correctly. The hiring of a new leader can provide hope for an organization. But it can also be a crisis in the making if that new leader is not a good fit for the culture or cannot build trust quickly with the members. Sometimes, in their zeal to prove they are as great as the people who hired them think they are, new leaders will implement good changes poorly or worse, dumb changes poorly!
6. When there is too much cash-flow
You are probably saying to yourself, “He has got to be kidding!” But I am not. While having too little cash flow can be difficult and deadly, having too much can have similar destructive results. It can lead to wasted ventures, over-staffing, bloated programs and products, and feed the sense of invincibility I mentioned in #4. Just like with families, the more money organizations possess, the more complicated it can become for everyone to stay healthy, grounded and unified.
If you think your organization may be in a vulnerable state, contact us to speak with one of our consultants and learn how you can strengthen your leadership and your organization!
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of organizational assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems Design from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from The Union Institute.