How to tell if your workplace suffers from corporate personality disorder

Here’s how you can tell if you’re working for an organization suffering from what I call corporate personality disorder. In an earlier blog I hijacked a definition from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and made a case that what applies to us humans equally applies to organizations. Hence I describe a corporate personality disorder (CPD) as:

A corporate personality disorder is an enduring pattern of organizational experience and behavior that deviates from employee expectations, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in early organizational development, is stable over time, and leads to employee distress and impairment.”

Basically, I’m saying that dysfunctional organizations (how they are structured and their systems and processes) can make you emotionally and physically sick and explode. That little definition brought a corporate personality profilehuge response from fellow humans who everyday suffer from organizations with CPD. Many of you asked me if there’s a way to diagnose this corporate malady, and by doing so, bringing even a little comfort that you’re okay, it’s the organization that’s bonkers. And so I bring you the Corporate Personality Disorder Profile (CPDP). For those critics thinking this is no better than a Cosmopolitan magazine love test (and there’s nothing wrong with that), I assure you that this model is based on my analysis of over 25,000 employees in over 400 different workplace.

The CPDP measures 10 human emotion factors and 10 structure/systems/process on a scale of 1 to 5 (1=never and 5=always) . You need both sets of measures to have a well-functioning workplace with your morale being high and you feeling good about the place.

The 10 emotion factors are (rate each one on the 1-5 scale:

  1. You are respected for your age
  2. You are respected for your gender
  3. You are respected for your ethnicity
  4. There is fair allocation of work, promotions, and hiring
  5. You feel valued as an employee
  6. Workplace conflicts are quickly addressed and fairly dealt with
  7. Important information is quickly and efficiently shared with you
  8. You receive constructive feedback on your work
  9. You have a balance of work and personal life
  10. You are asked your opinion about workplace issues

The 10 workplace structure/systems process measures are (rate each one on the 1-5 scale:

  1. You have the authority to make decisions that will help you succeed at your job
  2. There is good collaboration among various teams and units
  3. There is good coordination of who is doing what to avoid overlap and duplication
  4. All employees clearly know their responsibilities
  5. All employees have the right training to do what they are responsible for
  6. All employees are encouraged to respectfully challenge assumptions about how things should be done
  7. All employees are quickly and fairly held accountable for what they are supposed to do
  8. Employee communications is efficient, effective, useful, and from the right person
  9. The organization’s structure shows trust by distributing power and control to the front line rather than centralizing it at one source.
  10. There is a willingness to quickly change a structure, process or system if it’s not working.

Now add up your total score from both the Emotion needs and the Structure/system/process measures and apply it to the embedded grid. What kind of corporate personality are you dealing with? Each category has its own definitions which I’ll get into next week. And every person can end up with a different profile. But it’s the one that you personally came up with that means the most to you. So, how are things going? Just what kind of personality profile does your workplace have?

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