Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Organisational Hygiene – the forgotten ingredient at work

The word hygiene originates from the 16th-century modern Latin ‘hygieina’, meaning the art of health. Today – hygiene indicates practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, primarily via cleanness.

Hygiene postmortem + choose the right fix

In this blog, hygiene, or organisational hygiene as we chose to call it, is directly attributed to the state of corporate culture and the impact on those that spend many hours ‘in’ or ‘with’ ecosystems of such organisations. Please note that people are part of the organisation (in) or associate (with) the organisation.

Organisational hygiene equates to all the isms applied at the organisation via rules, policy and customs. The latter guides behaviour by both individuals and institutions, which ultimately manifests via organisational culture. 

Culture is the manifestations of human behaviour regarded collectively. It’s the ideas, customs and social behaviour of certain people, in this instance, employees at any of your organisations.

All the customs, rules, and policy force elements of the organisation to behave in a particular manner. When such behaviour is practised every day, as per the rules at the entity, they turn into acceptable patterns and, therefore, culture. It becomes the collective way of thinking, belief, behaviour and practice via what/how we do at work.

You may notice the overarching emphasis on ‘how people behave’ in this discourse on management hygiene. Indeed, it’s we people that shape hygiene issues at the organisation and, at the end of it all, culture. It’s, therefore, true that the same people have the choice to attain the appropriate level of organisational hygiene.

But what is organisational-hygiene in practice?

“Organisational hygiene: organisation norms and ensuing behaviour, all consciously working to maintain decorum in and between organisational ecosystems, aligning to sound principles of human collaboration at both agency and collective levels.” The Effectiveness lab

Good organisational hygiene espouses the following principles:

◦ Accepting the diversity of others and working to accommodate differences, even when one organisation/brand enjoys the so-called power privilege over the others.

◦ Positioning organisation culture in a manner that ensures the ‘balance’ of power between entities occupying one space.  

◦ The awareness that when power and brand are de-emphasised for a shared vision, consonance amongst human relations at work is more towards understanding, empathy and win-win outcomes than the selfish tendencies of domination and the resulting tension.

◦ A libertarian approach to working with others that is tolerant, unprejudiced/bigoted, is broad-minded enough to know that no entity shall survive the next decades if it so chooses to continue lecturing and controlling others in its ways.

The powerful can work on toning down power and instead front humility and respect of the opposite brand and its human beings. Don’t we get mad about power and forget simple human values and principles? Don’t leaders forget to remind subjects to embrace critical organisation hygiene factors at the workplace? Who of us has got a rubric for organisation hygiene practices? And it could be as simple as a statement of purpose.

It’s not the dominance of one entity by the other that makes a brand powerful, but accommodation and tolerance to ensure decorum in spaces where organisational value is getting created by multiple players. Decorum brings about peace and focus on the fundamental matters of impact or wealth creation; not distractions related to sorting out conflict and tension. You would think that the latter should be obvious to leaders at organisations, but it’s not, most of the time. The obsession with power and dominance overshadows accommodation and win-win outcomes for all involved parties.

Those living in the present are acutely aware that the world is moving from post-industrial revolution neoclassical management and control to a more liberal, empowering, respectful and consensual system. They are schooled in appreciation that agency at an organisation significantly influences relations and organisational hygiene. Leaders should therefore work to tutor staff in acquiring habits and competencies that guarantee decorum amongst the brand they work for or with peers on the opposite side.

The ‘My Way or The Highway’ organisation shall die sooner. Indeed, unawares, these entities are slowly smothering on their feet.

Have a blessed weekend and week ahead.


4 responses to “Organisational Hygiene – the forgotten ingredient at work”

  1. Very thoughtful and informative masterpiece! Actually, “hygiene piece” in the context is calling for smart leadership rather than proud and arrogant leadership. The question of how those organisations at the top can lead by learning from their fellow team players and be more dynamic and effective than being too static to changes and contributions from other players


    1. Thanks Jackson – appreciate your deep reflection ☝️and taking time from your busy schedule to read the blog 🙏🙏


  2. Aramanzan Madanda Avatar
    Aramanzan Madanda

    Interesting piece. Very true that “the obsession with power and dominance overshadows accommodation and win-win outcomes for all involved parties.”

    We hope that all of us involved in organizational leadership can manage power in a way that is enabling and productive. Could feminist thought on power be a useful tool?


    1. Dr. Madanda thanks for reading the blog. I’m from the other school of thought that believes gender into leadership is for the good of effective-leadership


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


%d bloggers like this: