The Confrontation Meeting

Fundamentals of Organization Development

Richard Beckhard

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  • One of the continuing problems facing the top management team of any organization in times of stress or major change is how to asses accurately the state of the organization’s health. How are people reacting to the change? How committed are subordinate managers to the new conditions? Where are the most pressing organization problems? In the period following a major change – such as that brought about by a change in leadership or organization structure, a merger, or the introduction of a new technology – there tends to be much confusion and an expenditure of dysfunctional energy that negatively affects both productivity and morale. At such times, the top management group usually spends many hours together working on the business problems and finding ways of coping with the new conditions. Frequently, the process of working together under this pressure also has the effect of making the top team more cohesive. Concurrently, these same managers tend to spend less and less time with their subordinates and with the rest of the organization. Communications decrease between the top and middle levels of management. People at the lower levels often complain that they are less in touch with what is going on than they were before the change.

    The Confrontation Meeting’, RichardBeckhardHarvard Business Review, 45 (2) (1967): 149–155. Copyright © 1967 by the Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation; all rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review.

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