How to Fix a Rift in an Organization

To mend a rift, a comprehensive strategy is necessary, one that is not merely corrective but foundational, aiming to foster a resilient, engaged, and adept workforce capable of steering through the constant changes in the business world

In the intricate tapestry of modern corporate culture, the genuine understanding between senior leadership and the workforce is paramount to ensuring an organization’s success and operational efficiency. This relationship, when unraveled, can lead to a cascade of adverse effects, including plummeting morale, an uptick in voluntary departures, and a decline in productivity.

To mend such a rift, a comprehensive strategy is necessary, one that is not merely corrective but foundational, aiming to foster a resilient, engaged, and adept workforce capable of steering through the constant changes in the business world. Here are a few strategies that should help in this endeavor.


The bedrock of this strategy is the cultivation of exceptional communication skills among senior leaders. To foster a sense of value and belonging, it is paramount for employees to perceive their contributions as meaningful and their voices as heard. Senior leaders must, therefore, prioritize establishing open, multidirectional communication channels, creating regular forums for dialogue, and maintaining an openness to feedback.

This cultivation of open communication is intertwined with the development of trust; a culture of openness within the organization lays the groundwork for trust and confidence, essential elements in the fabric of organizational culture. Senior executives must play a pivotal role in demystifying the intricacies of corporate operations and decision-making processes, thereby fostering a sense of ownership and purpose among the employees.  


Investment in human capital signifies the organization’s commitment to its workforce, a gesture that pays dividends in employee loyalty and job satisfaction. Initiatives aimed at enhancing employees’ skills and advancing their careers reflect the organization’s deep-seated commitment to its people. This investment is not merely a financial undertaking, but a demonstration of the value placed on employees’ growth and development.


Leadership by example is another cornerstone of this strategy. The conduct of senior leaders embodies the organization’s core values of accountability and respect, setting a cultural tone that permeates through the organization. This leadership approach fosters a culture where organizational loyalty and exemplary behavior are the norm.


Creation of a positive and inspiring work environment is crucial in bolstering employee happiness and engagement. Recognizing achievements, facilitating social connections, and promoting a healthy work-life balance are elements that contribute to a vibrant workplace. Such an environment is conducive to productivity, employee well-being, and a reduction in voluntary turnover.


Alignment of goals between executive leadership and the workforce is a catalyst for collective effort toward common objectives. By articulating clear goals and describing how individual roles contribute to these aims, organizations can ensure that this alignment translates into enhanced job satisfaction and motivation.


Addressing workplace conflicts in a fair and prompt manner is imperative to sustaining a culture of trust and respect. Senior executives have a critical role in ensuring that employee grievances are addressed in a sensible and equitable manner, fostering a culture of fairness and responsiveness.


The dynamic nature of today’s business environment necessitates leadership agility and an openness to feedback. Characteristics of dynamic leadership include responsiveness to change, a willingness to embrace innovation, and a commitment to fostering a culture of trust, autonomy, and engagement through delegation and encouragement of initiative.


Celebrating organizational milestones and achievements with the workforce is vital in fostering a sense of collective accomplishment. Senior executives must recognize and appreciate the contributions of their teams, establishing an atmosphere of acknowledgment and gratitude.  


Clarity regarding career advancement opportunities within the organization motivates and retains top talent. It is imperative for leaders to outline the avenues for progression, highlighting the organization’s commitment to employee development and the possibilities for upward mobility.


Confronting organizational biases and fostering diversity and inclusivity not only enhances the corporate culture but also builds a foundation of trust and respect among employees. Senior leaders must be vigilant in identifying and addressing biases, ensuring that the organization’s culture is one of inclusivity and respect for diversity.


Empathy and active listening are skills of paramount importance for senior leaders. By engaging with and understanding employees’ perspectives, executives can foster a culture of open communication, mutual respect, and trust.

In essence, senior executives must possess a profound awareness of these principles and be committed to their implementation. These strategies are integral to mending and strengthening the bond between leadership and the workforce. By adhering to these principles, organizations can cultivate a culture of trust, respect, and efficiency, propelling them toward enhanced performance and securing their long-term success in the fiercely competitive business landscape.

This holistic approach, embracing both the human and operational facets of the organization, is essential in navigating the complexities of today’s business environment, ensuring a resilient and thriving organizational culture.

Vlad Vaiman is Professor and an Associate Dean at the School of Management of California Lutheran University and a visiting professor at several premier universities around the world.