Are You Having an Organizational Identity Crisis?
If your organization is having an identity crisis. You may be the last to know. The clues aren’t usually obvious, but you may sense something is wrong.
Do you spot any of these patterns emerging?
- More and more employees are leaving
- Quality and/or performance is trending downward
- Your organization is missing deadlines
- Your clients or customers are complaining more
- It’s getting harder and harder to find good talent
These issues are not random blips on the landscape. They reveal deeper problems, those below the surface. Greater attention to structure and organization may be needed, but there is a core issue at stake: Organizational Identity.
An identity crisis may happen for a number of reasons. Some reasons are inevitable. Some are regrettable. But, many times an identity crisis starts from what are, initially, positive changes. What is positive at first, like growth or increased capabilities, can morph into a quagmire without attention. This drag causes confusion and does not just hinder your workers but will inevitably affect your customers and outside contacts, too.
An identity crisis will likely coincide with these circumstances:
- A change in key management, ownership, or structure
- A new technology replacing an old way of doing things
- Expansion into a new territory or demographic
- Offering new services
- Expansion and increased public visibility
- New or changing partnerships, associations, or clients
Organizations, if they last long enough, experience seasons where renovating identity is crucial. This is a good thing. What your organization stands for or why it exists may seem obvious to you, but it needs routine upkeep to ensure everyone shares a cohesive vision. Creating and cementing your organization’s mission, vision, and values are essential to new and continued success.
Organizational Identity answers the questions:
- Who are we?
- Why do we exist?
- How do we share that vision beyond ourselves?
Core values and identity should be found together—in a partnership with owners and employees. It should be built from the ground up to forge something solid and genuine. Identity can never be reduced to platitudes or window dressing. It shouldn’t stop at a new logo and updated policies. It must be the foundational way that your group functions, together and with the outside world
Organizations like charity: Water, Starbucks, and The Coca-Cola Company, for example, have all crystallized their organizational identity for us. But, more important, they have all reinvented or re-clarified themselves as times have changed and found continued success. With some effort or outside expertise, you can usher in higher performance for your organization, too.
So, what problems have you seen that were evident of an identity crisis? Help us and our community of readers to learn from your experiences.
Written by Mark Griffin
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