A Prescription for Revitalization

Judith M. Bardwick, Ph.D.


Turning a mature, stable organization back into a vibrant one requires overt acts by top management. Executives must do some fine-tuning.

• First, they must determine where the organization is in terms of anxiety or apathy.

• If the mood is primarily apathetic, some level of tension must be constructed. that’s done by creating significant positive or negative outcomes as a result of performance, There has to be an institutional response to what people do and that response must have some clout.

• If the mood is overly anxious, then anxiety must be reduced by lowering uncertainty.

• Uncertainty is reduced when people are told what’s going on and what will happen to them. In the “no news” vacuum, people imagine the worst. Good news or bad, honesty is the best policy.

• If the basic emotional tone of the organization has been altered through dramatic change, a period of decompression or consolidation, of getting back on keel, is necessary. The object of this period is to allow emotion to level off. In this transition state, the survivors, those who made it through the changes, may need a lot of supportive attention.

• After the emotional level is brought closer to the midpoint, the organization must create a future for itself and for its employees. Fresh institutional goals or an organizational vision must be formulated, articulated, and broadcast with missionary enthusiasm. The goals must be clear, worthwhile, and measureable and achievable. This is the beginning of the transition from institutional defensiveness to organizational initiative.

Forward momentum results when managers give employees short-term goals which are definitely and swiftly achievable and when executives create long-term wins. Employees need to know where they’re heading, what’s happening, and the strategies that have been designed to get them there. As accomplishments are achieved, they must be loudly publicized and the achievers have to be visibly rewarded.


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