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Removing Barriers to Excellence: Initiating Change

Symptoms of a Rigid Organizational Culture

Inflexible or rigid corporate cultures inhibit service excellence. In a rigid cultural environment, employees are not given the authority to directly address customer concerns, there is little communication between senior executives and staff, and extensive paperwork consumes everyone’s time.

In this kind of environment, employees turn inward to tasks they can control rather than deal with customer concerns in an open and empowered manner.

Rigid cultures can prevent a company from competing in the marketplace by destroying customer relationships. In most cases, companies with rigid cultures eventually fall into one of three categories:

1. Almost out of business

These organizations are inwardly focused. They don’t grasp what attracts their customers, and fail to generate enough the income to stay afloat. The little money they do make is typically wasted on things that are of no interest to their customers.

2. Barely mediocre

These organizations survive in spite of themselves. They have little commitment to organizational excellence or to the customer. These businesses struggle to stay afloat and are left behind when the competition arrives.

3. Stagnant

These organizations survive with the status quo. They are locked into their old ways of doing things with no particular internal inspiration. They get okay market share, but miss great opportunities.

Rigid, controlling environments fail to energize or inspire employees to achieve excellence. Without people who care about excellence, companies can’t deliver the kind of service that sets them apart and keeps their customers coming back.

Before you can counteract or avoid this kind of organizational inflexibility, you need to recognize the symptoms of rigid environments, including:

  • people become preoccupied with procedures, rules, and written processes,
  • the organisation loses sight of the ultimate objective, which is creating customer value,
  • employees lose direction and mission focus, and
  • employees just go through the motions, without considering the changing needs of their customers.

If you see these signs, it’s time to revitalize your organization and change your cultural norms before inflexibility destroys your customer service standing and, ultimately, the health and well-being of your business.

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