What Are Organizational Barriers?

by Larry Ellis; Updated September 26, 2017

Organizational barriers can be any number of things ranging from physical items to individual and group attitudes. They do not have to be major items. They could be as simple as an extended employee absence or as significant as the takeover of an organization by a foreign government. They can even be perceptions that have no basis in reality. The key to identifying barriers and removing their constrictive effect is to carefully identify all aspects of the barrier.

Identifying Barriers

The potential for a barrier exists any time an action is needed that involves two or more people making a decision. Common places for organizational barriers are processes requiring multiple signatures, decision making for conditions not covered in policy, developing new programs without upper management support, committee meetings in general, and most changes that affect the status of employees. Attitudes that create a negative condition can also be barriers. Even indifference can sometimes create a barrier. If something is stopping or delaying a process or a movement from point A to point B, it should be reviewed and evaluated.

Evaluating the Barrier

Barriers come in many forms and from many sources. They can be temporary or permanent. When you are evaluating a barrier, it is necessary that you look at all the activities that precede the delay as well as the activities that follow the delay. The major weapon for you in evaluating a possible barrier is to ask "Why does this barrier exist?" Sometimes the answer is that the barrier is a temporary one that will disappear. Sometimes the answer is not known. These responses identify a starting point for dealing with barriers. Evaluate the situation and find out who is involved, what they do, where they do it and what part it plays in the overall process. This information will help identify pivot points for eliminating or at least minimizing the impact of barriers.

Identifying Pivot Points

Pivot points are those behaviors or attitudes that cause the actions or lack of actions that create organizational barriers. An example of a pivot point in approving online training might be the frame of mind of the individual who approves changes. The individual may not believe online learning works because of a bad experience. Understanding these pivot points is critical to removing or modifying the barriers.

Removing or Modifying Pivot Points

Document the findings once you have identified the pivot points. Be careful to address the problem, not the personality. It will be up to you to identify and recommend solutions to overcome the barriers. Always try to identify good reasons for the changes. The best reasons for change are better customer service, lowered costs or improved profits. Be sure that you do not let a possible personal bias enter into the documentation of possible benefits. Always try to be a little conservative.


  • "Handbook of Human Performance Technology"; Stolovitch & Keeps; 1999.

About the Author

Larry Ellis began writing in 2011, bringing expertise in the topics of business, management, finance, mathematics and science to sites like eHow. Ellis received his Ph.D. in distance education in 2007 from Capella University.

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