Why Broken Company Culture Means Racking Up The Pain

If your company culture is broken, what are your values and how do you shift them? Without looking at the wall or your screensaver or your corporate issued tattoo… tell me what your company values are … There are probably 5 or 6 of them, aye? One of them most likely has something to do with integrity? Something about innovation too?

Did you guess all of them yet (at this point you’d be guessing)?

Ask your boss (if you’re the CEO, ask a board member) what the corporate values are. Awkward, aye? We won’t raise the issues of vision or purpose, I’d need a novel for that. Going back to values, why is it that you don’t know what they are? Why doesn’t anyone know what they are? Is it because we don’t care? Or because they differ from our own? Maybe a combination of both.

Bodies Under The Table

It doesn’t take much research to find that values have been visited over and over again by thousands of books. A search in business books on Amazon yields 50,000 plus results! Values, accountability and ethics all go hand in hand. Companies plaster them on walls, tattoo them on leaders’ foreheads and staple them to the backs of anyone with a pulse.

So, why do so many people quit their job over culture and values misalignment? Quite simply, there are too many organisations with “values on the wall and bodies under the table”.

So what behaviours lead to high body counts in your office?

How do you know when it’s happening in your company?

  • Smiling assassins — we’ve come a long way from the ancient times of declaring war on tribes, but not so much. Co-workers now smile at each other while they seek to undermine their peers, waging wars that the other person doesn’t know are going on.
  • Turning a blind eye — when leaders pretend everything is okay and gleefully paste values on the walls like cheap wallpaper, people pick up on that. The rift between what leaders want valued and what they actually espouse becomes apparent and the jig is up.
  • Losing the glue — those who do fight the good fight and want a positive outcome for all become weary and flee to better organisations or sometimes simply leave for better pay because the values misalignment isn’t worth the heartache. Often these people are the glue holding otherwise dysfunctional teams together.
It's time to shift your Company Culture

Here’s how to move the needle and improve your company culture

Typical phone call I receive: “Bob is under-performing and their team is not achieving y result”. People think the problem with Bob is a lack of skills or simply disinterest. What I often find, sometimes at the team level, other times at the organisation level, is that there are bodies under the table. People are turning on each other and the issue I got contacted for is simply symptomatic of that (say simply symptomatic, it really rolls off the tongue). Bob isn’t under-performing because he doesn’t care, it’s because he is trying to keep his career alive while all of his peers are killing each others’.

I sometimes jokingly say that leadership is in large part a series of uncomfortable conversations no one really wants to have. It sounds cynical, but effective leadership means keeping people accountable and ruthlessly killing political nonsense. If you want Bob to perform, then…

Start with your root cause analysis and dig in deep

Ask these questions:

  • What is the real “way we do things around here” vs the things our values say we are meant to do?
  • What behaviours are encouraged and which ones are ignored?
  • How do our leaders reward values aligned behaviour and how do they performance manage poor behaviour?

When you are asking these questions you have to deeply challenge surface-level responses from the team. Get to the root of the behaviours. Once you find the answers, you have to publicly commit to your team that you will make positive change the priority. 

Now, fight like h3ll to break that poor culture!

Want to binge on more blog bad@ssery?

8 Ways You’re Causing Accountability Pain

8 Ways You’re Causing Accountability Pain

In this blog let’s unpack how to take back control and build a culture of accountability (pro tip: it starts with you!). You want your team, your boss, and everyone around you to be more accountable, but how well are you doing that yourself (d#mn those mirrors!)?

The first lie you’re told about leadership

The first lie you’re told about leadership

This first part is about the most pervasive lie I see wreak havoc on hopeful leaders. You’re running around giving it a whirl and yet there is stil at least one person giving it right back to you.