Organizations and Teams Are Less Impactful

Infighting isn’t just a problem among individual advocates. It’s also a problem among and within organizations.

In many ways, organizations are the central power source—the engine—of a movement. Whether they’re grassroots, professional, regional, national, or international, organizations are vitally important to the success of a movement. So when our organizations are destabilized, our movements are also destabilized.

Organizational infighting may be expressed through organizations competing with each other rather than collaborating, or through one organization attacking another. Organizational infighting often manifests internally, with team members—including leaders—relating to each other dysfunctionally. Internal infighting can substantially reduce the effectiveness of an organization.

In a “toxic workplace,” in which 15 percent of employees engage in toxic interactions, or nonrelational behaviors, the financial cost alone to an organization of 1,000 employees is estimated at over US$2 million.

Internal infighting can substantially reduce the effectiveness of an organization.

What’s more, nonrelational behaviors are highly contagious, with ripple effects reaching far beyond those immediately affected. In a workplace, these behaviors impact not only the direct recipients of them, but also the recipients’ coworkers, family members, and friends. Those who witness a nonrelational behavior—or even just hear about it after the fact—can also be negatively impacted.

Studies have shown that toxic workplaces, and the staff who work in them, can suffer from a host of problems that can significantly reduce their ability to work effectively. These problems include the following:

  • A culture of “dysfunctional competition”

  • High rates of absenteeism

  • High rates of errors

  • Reduced participation in decision making

  • Reduced commitment to the organization

  • High turnover rates

  • Decreased job performance

  • Decreased creativity

  • Lowered life satisfaction

  • Decreased job satisfaction

  • Withholding support from colleagues

  • Burnout

  • Retaliation

  • Self-protection

  • Feeling worthless

  • Fear

  • Distrust

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Irritability

  • Anger

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Heart disease

The more we reduce infighting in our organizations and teams, the healthier and more impactful our movements become.

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