Emotional Traumas in Organizations: The Healing Process and Its Evaluation

Introduction: The Problem Statement. When There Is No Escape from Suffering

People have always treated any changes with a grain of suspicion. While the current state of affairs might be far from an ideal one, there is always the fear that the next change is only going to make the matters worse. Though in certain cases, the given supposition might actually be close to the truth, in the organizational setting, where the further course of actions is planned several years ahead, the fear of changes is completely irrational. However, the given phenomenon still exists, which is the topic of the case study under analysis. However, for a company to continue its development and succeed as a new unit in a specific market, it is crucial that the employees should be able to adapt to the rapid changes. Analyzing the given study and considering the approach undertaken by the researchers might possibly set the pattern for the rest of organizations to comply with to avoid a shock and the following company degrading.

Case Study Summary: A Guide to Handling Traumas in Organizational Settings

According to the basic information that was represented in the case study, corporation A, which was further transformed into a company B, was changed so abruptly that its members, including the entire staff, did not have time to adapt to the changes and, thus, suffered from the trauma caused by the differences in the settings, approaches, and goals of the two companies. As the authors of the case study emphasize, the members of a newly created company “were not able to embrace the outlook of their future within the organization” (Sasol, 2007, 51). With the help provided by an OD professional, the paradigm for healing was provided. Involving two major steps, i.e., the process of “divorce” between the non-existing organization and its former members, and the development of a new adaptation strategy that could help the company members integrate into the new organizational environment while being ready for a new experience: “The team needed help to work through their trauma before they would be able to see a new and exciting future” (Sasol, 2007, 51).

Considering the research settings, one must mention that the case study does not provide any exact numbers, presumably, because the information provided in the paper can possibly negatively affect the given organization once its disguise will be uncovered. It is noteworthy that the researchers do not even mention the field in which the given organization works, not to mention the services that it provides. However, there is an essential bit of information that one can actually get from the given case study; concerning the research method, the paper information shows that the researchers apply the therapeutic model to heal the trauma of the company employees. In addition, the research makes it obvious that the given method works only once the first two steps, i.e., the acceptance of changes and the will to adapt towards these changes, have been made. Finally, speaking of the method used in the study, the model comprised of four consecutive steps has been provided: “(1) acknowledge the existence of trauma; (2) providing a safe space to work through the trauma; (3) symbolizing the trauma; and (4) allowing emotions and dealing with the emotions” (Sasol, 2007, 52).

Concerning the Results: Unexpected Outcomes and Important Observations to Consider

As it has been mentioned above, unfortunately, the chosen research does not offer any statistical data – or numerical, for that matter. Therefore, it is rather challenging to evaluate the research results objectively. It seems that the research could have been improved if the authors had provided the exact number of people who finally became completely confident about their new organization and mission, the employees who remained doubtful, etc. Thus, the research would have been more objective. However, with what Sasol offers, one can still draw certain conclusions on the efficiency of interventions for healing organizational traumas. As Sasol explains, by acknowledging the negative emotion and dealing with them by using humor (Sasol, 2007, 53), the members of the organization could finally get a grip and reconcile with the changes. One must mention, though, that the effects of the adopted methods are stunning. Even though the efficiency of the applied theories cannot be doubted, it is still barely credible that the entire organization managed to come to terms with its new purpose and functions. Therefore, it would be desirable that the actual statistical data could be observed in the study for its better evaluation.

From the Perspective of a Consultant: Preventing Further Instances of Traumas

Dealing with such kinds of traumas requires much tactfulness and patience, as well as the ability to analyze people’s character traits and understand what exactly they miss about the old corporation, the fears that they have, and the challenges that they will face when adapting to the new environment. Providing people, the opportunity to change, at the same time helping them be more optimistic about the future of their company and, therefore, their own career is the job of a consultant in the given case. Therefore, I believe that, as a consultant, I would do pretty much what Sasol did, with the exception of the fact that I would also run personality tests to figure out whether I could need some individual approaches in the given situation. That said, it seems that the key to success is teaching the employees to take advantage of changes instead of fearing them.

Intervention and the Stages for the Given Week’s Session: Simple and Efficient

As has been mentioned above, my intervention would have been slightly different from the one suggested by Sasol. Nevertheless, with the help of the steps described below, the given intervention would have been just as efficient as the one suggested by Sasol. Hence, the strategy of Human Process Interventions must be adopted. Based on a situational approach, it presupposes dealing with the fears of each employee separately and, therefore, allows for more flexibility (Bouchbout, Akoka & Alimazighi, 2012).

Stage 1

Offering the employees personality tests and analysis of the employees’ personality specifics and the possible factors that cause the most stress in the given circumstances based on the results of the test.

Stage 2

Private sessions with each of the employees to help each of them recognize their personal fears and understand the necessity to fight these fears.

Stage 3

Developing an individual, a strategy to fight the above-mentioned fears for each of the employees in the company and evaluating the results.

Stage 4

Creating a group to help the employees realize that they share a common problem that can be solved with the help of personal responsibilities and at the same time teamwork and cooperation.

Stage 5

Evaluating the progress made by the employees and setting the course for further improvements and personal and professional growth.

Conclusion: The Lessons to Be Learned. OD and the Specifics of Organizational Behavior

Judging by the results of the case study in question, organizational development is not merely an integral part of any company, but also the phenomenon that can influence the behavior of the employees, thus, contributing to shaping the organizational behavior and establishing organizational culture, as well as contributing to the organizational safety and, thus, preventing organizational traumas. Once the right organizational behavior has been established for the entire staff to comply with, one can expect that the instances of traumas will drop considerably.

It should also be mentioned, however, that relying solely on the principles of organizational behavior does not seem reasonable enough. While there are certain norms to follow, there are also a number of unexpected situations happening on a regular basis in every organization and demanding an individual approach. Therefore, the organizational behavior should be shaped towards not simply following the company’s code of conduct to the t, but also being able to analyze a situation and being able to take responsibilities and make decisions. That said, it seems that the organization managers should adopt not only the approach of transactional leadership but also a situational approach to find a unique solution to any situation.

Reference List

Bouchbout, K., Akoka, J., & Alimazighi, Z. (2012). An MDA-based framework for collaborative business process modelling. Business Process Management Journal, 18(6), 919–948.

Sasol, M. de K. (2007). Healing emotional trauma in organizations: An O. D. framework and case study. Organization development Journal, 25(1), 49–55.