The troublesome personality or the troubled organisation

Systems psychodynamics is an approach to making sense of what goes on in organisations. Systems psychodynamics can address challenging organisational dilemmas and improve effectiveness. This is the third in a series of blogs which aim to summarise in an accessible way different aspects of the systems psychodynamic approach.

We often have a very individualistic way of thinking about problems in teams and organisations. Sometimes a problem can get located in one person, or group who everyone starts to see as troublesome. It appears that their behaviour is getting in the way of everyone else’s good work.  We feel if only that person or group would change or disappear everything would be alright. This view is very appealing, hard to resist, can be perversely enjoyable and is often acted out by the development of a gossipy blame culture. Another way of looking at things is that the person or group is expressing something on behalf of the wider system. So rather than the whole organisation owning the need to reduce budgets, one individual or team is selected by the group to take the blame. Or perhaps one person appears to be refusing to budge on a point of principle but another way of thinking about this is that this individual is expressing everyone’s anxiety around the dilemma presented by a particular decision. If we can step back from seeing things only in terms of individual personalities, we have a better chance of understanding organisational dilemmas and arriving at creative solutions.

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