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  • by Art Dykstra

From My Pad to Yours

Harmony in an Organizational Context

Harmony is a process. In music, it is the process of choosing different notes that complement each other and create a pleasant sound. “Different” is key because, if all the notes played were the same, it would not produce anything that one could call harmony.

We can also think of harmony in words and observations, such as:

  • Everyone—in spite of their differences—is getting along.
  • There is orderliness to the activities of the business.
  • There is congruity between words and deeds.
  • The members of the organization are in agreement with its direction.

Disharmony, on the other hand, is evident when people don’t get along. It’s a major reason why employees don’t want to go to work. Harmony rapidly vanishes when employees don’t know what is expected of them. It also deteriorates when even one cynical person infects his or her coworkers with negativity. Morale can plummet in a department because negativity is contagious. The absence of trust ensures that a workplace—whether residential, day program or network—will function in a discordant fashion. Those of us who live in Illinois see the results of that kind of disharmony when we read about or listen to the activities of the state legislature. Their behavior helps us understand how counterproductive and destructive the lack of trust can be.

As previously noted, harmony is a process, and some, if not most, work sites are not at the same level every day. To rephrase some of Stephen Covey’s wisdom, “We as people all bring our own notes to work every day. We all have a tune in our heads.” There is, however, a general consistent feeling or tone to each environment. Some are obviously better than others.

I believe much more work is accomplished in a harmonious work environment than in one that is not. That also holds for an agency or a committee since it too is a work site or workplace. When you have a harmonious work site—whether it be a home, day program, specialty program, a center, network or department—the following things are occurring. People:

  • Are getting along.
  • Know what they should be doing and are doing it.
  • Are expressing joy and satisfaction in their work.
  • Are getting along with their supervisor.
  • Know what’s going on.
  • Handle conflict, tensions and disagreements face to face—not by email or lengthy feedback documents.

A by-product of a harmonious workplace is the positive emotions of the persons being served. Visitors will often comment, “Your clients seem so happy.” Comments such as this emphasize the contagious quality of people who work in harmony.