Useful Terms for

Organizational Change


The following is a list of terms drawn from the fields of organizational theory and workplace literature. They provide a useful orientation for organizations that are assessing where they are and where they want to go.


Addictive Organizations… organizations which over-emphasize one or two areas at the expense of others…. Often hide problems by over-emphasizing successes… often sacrifice mental and physical health of employees and clients to succeed at technical goals, sometimes possesses sociopathic qualities


Advocacy… seeking change or improvements by promoting our own position… often more effective, if balanced with inquiry (see Inquiry below)


Assertive Competence… the responsibility of employees to assert their expertise in presenting solutions to problems and in proposing alternatives to unproductive policies and procedures


Inquiry… genuine curiosity about another person’s point of view or sincere interest in ideas proposed by others… asking questions to deepen understanding rather than interrogating to find fault


Pejorative Labeling… the tendency to use terms such as negative, divisive, anti-management, radical, angry, harsh tone, self-righteous, difficult, rabble-rouser and trouble-maker to discredit a colleague who has presented professional concerns or questioned an organization’s policies


Positive Language Environment… an environment in which people engage in honest exchanges with open agendas related to the community’s goals… noticeably absent in this environment: subterfuge, gossip, hidden intentions, discrediting, harassment, mobbing and covert aggression


Problem-hiding…. an organization’s tendency to maintain a positive image by silencing or hiding obstacles and dissent


Most Persuasive Argument… honest debate based on the mission of an organization, law, ethics and human rights.  Noticably absent: defensiveness, hostility, rationalizing, distracting, lying, changing the subject


Non-Support… a useful name for any situation in which support is being withheld from an employee by colleagues or managers/administrators.  This can an intentional strategy to force an employee out or due to skewed priorities…..


Positive politics…. the practice of building and sustaining relationships with others while negotiating the ways and means of using resources, such as money, time and allocated materials.  The key here is maintaining good faith and honesty.  That’s what makes it positive.


Stating Intentions… not leaving people to guess about our intentions… proactively preventing or removing anxiety by being upfront about what we’re doing… explaining our reasoning


Transparency…. the quality of an organization that doesn’t hide problems and which invites feedback in an open atmosphere of honest exchange… often creates a climate of trust and productivity


Undiscussables… issues that are ignored because they are uncomfortable, embarrassing or revealing of ineffectiveness


Workplace Mobbing/Mobbing Syndrome… when employees or managers gang up on an individual who has questioned an organization’s policies… discrediting, rumor, innuendo, shunning, marginalizing, fabricating personal conflicts to distract from issues, etc…. can be used as a strategy to remove the person from the organization or to force him/her to resign or transfer