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Managing Organizational Recovery Published: Sunday, August 21, 2011 8:00 am By: Ramón L. Rivera, President & CEO

A fundamental and required capacity of contemporary organizations is that one related to recovering from situations of dramatic and painful changes and events. Since leaders are not exempt from the risk of making mistakes, decisions made during those instances of dramatic transitions can shake the foundation of relationships among organizational members. Under those circumstances the exercise of leadership must include an orientation towards organizational and team recovery. The Recovery oriented leader uses the principles of hope, authority, engagement, and healing for re-creating a potent, efficient, and healthy team.

The process of recovery is more complicated that “getting back” something that has been lost.  It involves the “uncovering” of the persons story to locate the places which are causing the person to feel suffering of some kind—whether due to feelings of unworthiness, confusion about direction, deteriorated relationships, loss of hope, or lack of a meaningful work life.  After the uncovering comes the “recovering” of those hurtful places in the person’s life with new hope based on feelings of authority, meaningful choices, and a vision of a professional life that is worth going towards.  Recovery is about healing—it is about discovering together the parts of ourselves that feel incomplete or broken, and committing ourselves to discovering our own path towards wholeness.

Recovery happens in an environment where people believe things can get better—that their life can, once again, be more than the difficulties they are facing.  This is hope.  Hope is the result of a vision, regardless of whether it is a small or large, of how things would be better if they were to improve.  This vision must be more than just an idealized and hazy dream, for it is the basis for the courage the person needs to act.  Without hope, a person will remain stuck.

Leaders, in their words and actions, demonstrate they have hope.  More than just hope that the work will get done, a leaders hope is rooted in the belief that they are working towards a noble vision.  What do leaders do to keep their own hope alive?  How do leaders help others develop and sustain hope?  Both begin with the leader describing and blessing a vision that is describable and attainable.  It also requires the leader to develop, with other employees, an honest and forthright appraisal of how the organization must change if it is to meet this vision.  It demands of the leader a keen awareness of when the vision is too large to sustain hope, and when the vision is too small to be inspiring.

Recovery requires action because altering our life requires action.  Whether it is changing a long-held belief about ourselves or another person, or doing something different during the day, recovery requires a person to take responsibility for their place in the world by claiming both the authority to make decisions and the responsibility for those decisions.

More than what a leader says, others watch what a leader does.  Who Am I?  What is my genuine authority in this organization?  These are two essential questions for leaders to answer within themselves and support others in answering within the context of the organizations work.

This requires an acknowledgement of both the positional authority—the job tasks assigned—and the genuine wisdom—the gift and talents—the person is bringing to the group.  Staff must have meaningful roles—and significant authority within those roles—in order to inspire the same in others.  Empowered staff empowers people they serve.  Leaders are actively asking questions of themselves and others that encourage meaningful roles to be identified and given.  How do I use my work as an opportunity to discover and contribute the best of who I am?  What parts of who I am conflict with my role in the workplace?  Beyond my skills and education, what is the source of my desire to do this work?  What is the essence, the most essential gift, I am bringing to the workplace? 

The Recovery oriented leader views the organization as a living organism that goes through cycles of illness and health, just like the people the organization is serving.  Organizations, and the people in them, can face difficulties from unresolved conflicts, lack of commitment to a shared vision, employees who bring too much of their personal life with them to their work, and a host of other common organizational issues. The Recovery oriented leader focuses on regular practices that encourage employees to share and release the tremendous weight of the stories of others they are carrying, have opportunities to share their own stories of success and frustration, gather to celebrate success, and uncover and resolve blocks to healthy employee interaction and service delivery methods. 

Copyright 2011 QBS, Inc.
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