Finding a Cure for Your Organization's Ills

By Desda Moss Oct 26, 2016
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HR expert Steven A. Danley was glancing at a medical book one day when inspiration struck. Why not write a book about the maladies that affect organizational health?

"As an organizational and performance audit practitioner with more than thirty years of experience, as well as a former human resources director, I realized that there are management diseases and disorders that, to my knowledge, have never been collected, categorized and made available for easy reference," he wrote.

So Danley, a retired CHRO, teamed up with Peter Hughes, Ph.D., CPA, to author Management Diseases and Disorders: How to Identify and Treat Dysfunctional Managerial Behavior (Lulu Publishing, 2016).

The book divides 56 management diseases and disorders into two broad categories: personality-based and culture- or system-based. Each entry covers the following:

  • Definition of the condition.
  • Healthy and normal function.
  • Causes of dysfunction.
  • Risk to the organization.
  • Symptoms and signs.
  • Diagnostic analysis.
  • Progression and impact.
  • Prognosis.
  • Treatment or cure.

Chapters on personality-based disorders highlight some familiar pathologies that plague every workplace, including the egomaniac, the abuser, the manipulator and the wannabe.

An abusive manager, for example, may have unreasonable expectations, may have no shame about engaging in damaging behavior or may use exploitation as the primary means of relating to others.

Halting the progress of this type of organizational disease often involves one or more of the following, the authors write:

  • Action by board members who are willing to quash the behavior.
  • An employee or two willing to call management out when the behavior occurs.
  • Negative public attention.
  • A lawsuit or two.

While the book is not meant to provide a definitive listing of management diseases and disorders, it does give HR professionals an overview of the kinds of treatments needed to start the journey to a healthy enterprise. HR leaders are in a unique position to root out dysfunctional managerial behavior, the authors contend, and they admonish these leaders to be no less committed to doing so than they are to maintaining their personal health: "Just as no one wants to be sick, no one wants to work for a sick organization."

Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.

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