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Wheels are turning  
 

In theory, work groups come together to be productive and to enjoy their work. In reality, this is often not the case. Contrary to the notion of being “dysfunctional”, an unproductive and unhappy work group can be quite functional by serving the needs and interests of one or more members. The irony, of course, is the functionality might have little to do with the stated goals of the work group or the overall welfare of its members. Examples of seemingly unwelcome but highly functional workplace behaviors and outcomes include:

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The chronically unproductive group meeting
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Noncompliance with agreements and directives
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Staff turnover
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Low morale
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Lack of productivity on an individual and collective level
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Constant conflict and intrigue within the work group
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Problems of accountability
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Reluctance to take the initiative
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Reluctance to challenge the position of “higher ups”

If one accepts the functionality of these “problems”, then it is recognized they are unlikely to go away until they are understood differently. Change-oriented consultation is solely focused to this end. Every problem is believed to have a learning component and every problem situation is viewed as a learning opportunity.

Accessing the learning component of a “problem” usually includes the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information. Data is first gathered using multiple methods (e.g., observation, review of records, private interviews, confidential surveys and questionnaires) and then presented to the work group through a series of meetings. Most groups have a fairly good understanding of the functionality of their problems. However, uncertainty and the absence of a constructive vehicle to examine the “problem” within the group create a resistance to the prospect of being “being different.” Change-oriented consultation provides both the structure and the information necessary for a work group to gain a more productive, satisfying footing.