We’ve all heard that famous phrase first said by Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Building a strong and positive culture has become more of a priority in many companies, for several reasons: when employees are happy and well taken care of, they’ll be more productive; decisions that lead to good culture can also lead to good business practices; and culture can become part of your marketing and recruiting strategies.
But good culture isn’t something that just “happens.” It has to be planned, built, and cultivated into something deliberate and powerful. And just as good culture can be created, it can also be killed.
Today, we’re exploring the top four things that might be killing your company culture. If you can keep these things under control, you’ll have a better chance of building a culture that will help your business succeed.
- Ego. Inflated egos are real culture killers. Most people think of this in terms of the boss or manager, but the reality is, ego can cause problems at any level of the organization. A person in a leadership position can become controlling or overbearing. They might try to blame mistakes or poor performance on their subordinates, never accepting responsibility themselves. Employees with large egos can start to create political dynamics within the company, causing situations where members of a team ultimately turn against each other.
No matter where ego manifests itself, it’s bad news for your people. Practice ownership and humility to keep ego in check.
- Dishonesty. It’s hard enough to get teams to work together under good circumstances. If your culture is breeding dishonesty, it will be even harder. Dishonesty can creep in at many different places, from fudging numbers to spreading gossip about a coworker. At any level, it will build distrust among your team members, and will make it more difficult for them to function optimally.
Similarly, a lack of transparency can hurt your culture as well. When employees are left in the dark, it’s much harder for them to contribute to the company’s goals. Being transparent with them will help them know the role they need to play, and will make them feel like valued members of the team.
- Lack of recognition. Everyone wants to feel like they are seen and appreciated. You expect your employees to perform at a certain level, and you should recognize them when they are hitting that target. If you fail to praise your employees, they are likely only hearing from you when they’ve made a mistake, which could easily lead to them feeling resentment towards you or the company.
Also, the praise you give your employees shouldn’t be limited to their work responsibilities. Praise team members for living your company values as well. This will help promote your culture and encourage it to become even stronger.
- Tolerating bad behavior. Your culture is ultimately how your company values are manifest, both on a daily basis and over time. If you let it slide when someone doesn’t live these values, you are slowly killing your culture. Like we said before, good culture doesn’t just happen. It needs to be deliberately practiced in order to be truly impactful.
Don’t be afraid to overcommunicate your values to your staff. They need to know what the values are and what it looks like to live them. When employees are constantly reminded of the values, and they know that ignoring those values won’t be tolerated, it will give your culture a chance to grow.
Developing a strong culture is one of the best things you can do for your business. It can give your company—and your employees—a sense of identity and purpose, and can help guide you as you work to grow and thrive. Avoid these culture killers, and you’re well on your way to creating a healthy and happy work environment.
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