Repairing Working Relationships After an Organizational Crisis

Topic(s): change management
Publication: Academy of Management Review
Article: Organizational Crisis and the Disturbance of Relational Systems
Authors: W. Kahn, M. Barton, S. Fellows
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

The current research adds to the literature on organizational crisis management by emphasizing that damage to workplace relationships may linger once a crisis has been resolved from a simple business operations standpoint. These dysfunctional relationship patterns introduce hidden vulnerabilities and can cause long-term issues with performance.

The authors explain that an integral component of the recovery process post-crisis is repairing any damage to relationships that occurred. To prevent a long-term drain on a company’s performance these relationships must be restored to health. Effective responses to organizational crises must address not only what caused the crisis, but also how the crisis has affected peoples’ ties to one another. Although stressful situations put a strain on relationships, if well handled, they can have the opposite effect and should be seen as an opportunity to bring people closer together than they were pre-crisis.

Bottom line: Operational recovery is integral to restoring order post organizational crisis, but if you burn all your bridges in the process, you’ll end up winning the battle but losing the war.