How to Tell if Your Workplace is Dysfunctional

Author: Kit Muellner, LICSW, EAGALA Certified and CEO of H.O.P.E. Ranch

Every organization has some form of dysfunction. It’s true anywhere and it’s true right here in Rochester, MN. Employees know it. Managers often know it, and almost always, people outside your organization know it. In fact, sometimes it’s easiest to spot from the outside.

Degrees of Workplace Dysfunction and the Consequences

The dysfunction might be minor, moderate, or even severe. Should you do something about it? Can you do something about it? The answer to both questions is YES. Dysfunction, if left untreated tends to grow and any amount of dysfunction, even if it’s minor, at the very least affects workplace efficiencies and the bottom line. A workplace with moderate to severe dysfunction is headed for serious problems. We’ve seen it in our own backyards. It typically begins with a high degree of turn over, but then escalates. When left untreated, high levels of dysfunction spiral out of control and can even take down entire organizations. It makes headlines and can often trigger lawsuits.   

Spotting Dysfunction in Your Organization

Dysfunction can come from mid-level and high-level managers or from the general workforce. It takes many forms:

  1. Bullying and tyranny
  2. Gossip
  3. High level of sick days
  4. “Telling” on others
  5. Cliquing up
  6. Contempt for coworkers
  7. Contempt for managers or subordinates
  8. Withholding information
  9. Bigotry, sexism, and racism
  10. Email warfare
  11. Failing to confront
  12. Paralysis by over analyzing
  13. Paranoia

Another way to identify if your workplace is dysfunctional is to ask yourself this: Is your workplace a happy environment or is everyone a bit miserable? If you tend to wear rose colored glasses then you might want to put out a simple one-question anonymous survey to your employees. Ask them on a scale of 1-10 what level of dysfunction exist in your workplace. You’ll get the real answer that way. If the results are bad, don’t beat yourself up. Dysfunctional workplaces are not uncommon.

According to the 2017 Employee Engagement and Retention Statistics Report:

  • Only 16% of employees say they felt “connected and engaged” by employers
  • 75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable
  • 34% of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months
  • 16% of employees are actively seeking a new job
  • 46% of employees would accept another job if the opportunity arose
  • It can cost 33% of an employee’s salary to replace him/her
  • 71% of workers said they are looking to change employers
  • 59% of employees would leave their profession if they could

The statistics are a bit startling and often a big surprise to upper management, owners or the board of directors. This is because of communication, or to be more exact, lack of communication. Employees hold their true feelings close to the vest out of fear. Nothing will change until healing takes place and tools are provided to the dysfunctional team that open communication and educate staff and management.  

When couples can no longer communicate, they often seek counseling. Dysfunctional workplaces can do this, too. In fact, it’s quite common and we do this frequently at HOPE Ranch.

I’m passionate about improving the lives of people in the workplace locally. In fact, HOPE Ranch provides team building, corporate development, and staff retreats to organizations in the Greater Rochester Area, Greater Minnesota, and Northern Iowa. Just as psychotherapy facilitates individual growth and healing, corporate retreats and development facilitate identification of issues in your team/organization, and development and implementation of real, effective solutions. No two treatments plans are alike because organizations are as unique as individuals. We customize plans depending on your circumstances. We see real breakthroughs happen in a safe and helpful environment. If you’re having an issue with your team or suspect dysfunction in your midst, reach out. We’ve helped many others and we can help you.

Learn More:

Kit Muellner
 is the Owner & Founder of H.O.P.E. Ranch. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and is an EAGALA Certified Psychotherapist and Horse Specialist. Kit is well known as a stand out in her field, specializing in work with children, adults, and families. Before starting H.O.P.E. Ranch in 1999, Kit worked with facilities such as Olmsted County, Omnia Family Services, Gerard Treatment Facilities, Mendota Mental Health Institute and Mayo Clinic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *