flowcultura blog

10 Signs your Culture is a Blocker

11-Sep-2017 15:17:22 / by Marianna

10 signs you culture is a blocker.jpg
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t is this Culture thing and why is everyone talking about it? I’ve been involved in Culture work for over 12 years and it seems in the last 2 - 3 it’s become the buzz word of the moment, along with Future of Work, Gig Economy, Flexible Working and Employee Experience!
There are multiple definitions and connotations of Culture, it’s one of those nebulous concepts that mean different things to different people. However for the purposes of this blog, it is ‘the way things are done around here’. 
In other words, it is the patterns of behaviour you witness on a regular basis, or the way a new employee describeswhat it’s like to work for your organisation. They tend to feel your culture the strongest and are always a great source of insight. 
As a business leader, you will intuitively know when things are not right within your business. You might be concerned or frustrated with the status quo.  You’re not getting the results you need or believe you can achieve. You are witnessing things around you that feel counterintuitive to what makes for a successful business.  However you can’t quite put your finger on what the issue is or what’s causing it. 
Here are the 10 signs your culture is a blocker to look out for:
Positive Spin
You are sitting in a meeting reviewing results and things are not looking great. Yet everyone has a ‘reason’ or ‘excuse’ as to why things are as they are, and why it’s not that bad! Are you the only one who can seethis is a spin? Are you going completely mad?!
This is symptomatic of an environment where people don’t ‘say it like it is’ due to fear of the consequences.  People may feel that if they are the bearer of bad news then the blame lies with them so better to keep quiet and safe! 
People become defensive when given feedback 
Everyone says that they welcome feedback, yet when it’s given it’s not very welcomed! Especially if it’s given to a more senior person from someone less senior! "How dare they?”, "Who do they think they are!?" Another warning sign is when people only focus on the negative and never offer praise for a job well done.
Any thoughts or questions… tumble weed!
You have just shared the latest business updates to a room full of people and there is not one comment or question! So you’re peer perches up to ask a question so as to avoid the awkward silence! This could be due to apathy (people have given up caring) or fear of putting ones head above the parapet.  “They are asking for my opinion but don’t really want it”. “What if I say the wrong thing, then I’ll be on their hit list”. “Remember the last time someone asked a difficult question, lets just say they aren’t here anymore. No thanks!"
There is little energy
This has to be one of the most draining situations that I’ve experienced.  We spend a whole lot of our time at work and when the atmosphere is so miserable and filled with tension you can cut it with a knife, it’s a horrible existence.  You can feel it as soon as you walk into the room. It’s quiet with just a few murmurs and no laughter.  Without a buzz or energy, creativity is suppressed and people’s resources are depleted. There is no joy or productivity there. 
Good people leave (and the not so good stay)
Your stars are walking out the door at alarming rates. We all know, finding and keeping good people is a continuous struggle. Their value and impact is exponential, which isevident through all the high performer/high potential talent programmes in organisations today.  And yet, you’re struggling to keep them. 
Yet there are a whole lot of average or under performing people who have never even thought of moving on. They are your moaners, energy zappers and defensive lot and they are here to stay! This alone is a symptom of an underlying problem in that they have obviously not been managed effectively for their behaviours and performance. Under performing people do not belong in your organisation. They need to be developed, motivated to do better, moved to somewhere that aligns to their skills or helped to ‘find happiness elsewhere’. 
Corporate politics take more time than doing the job
You know what I’m talking about. You see the behaviours subtly but often. People spitting out all the latest leadership theory jargon who are only extremely competent at covering their backside. They go around telling everyone they’ve got it wrong and always know how to be at the right place at the right time, saving the day using someone else’s work or ideas!  Their only agenda is their own, at any cost, usually your companys'. 
The best advice I got was to always think and act based on how you can add value and help someone else. Shift the focus from yourself to those around you. What goes around, comes around!
A big deal is made of the Ping-Pong table. 
Look at all the great benefits we have, a ping pong table, free fruit, a beer trolley! What else do you need!?!?!? It’s been proven time and again that extrinsic motivation can be a de-motivator. Ping pong is fun no doubt, and can be symptomatic of a flexible & fun environment. However only if it is one of many symbols of ‘trusting your people to do the right thing’. If you have a ping pong table but are giving dirties to anyone playing on it outside the lunch hour… well that kind of defeats the purpose!
Do as I say, not as I do
This is a classic scenario. Leaders champion the corporate values, post them all over the wall, tell others to behave in the appropriate matter in the one breathe, and totally contradict it with their actions in the next.  "These are tough times and we need to be mindful of our costs” types the Financial Director from his Uber Lux!
You could drive a 16 wheeler through the gap between the values on the walls & reality 
The posters on the wall have been wordsmithed to perfection, the branding is cool and you even have some funky creative videos to match. Yet all you see are contradictory actions that bear no resemblance to your values. It’s all about ‘working better together’ but the silos could not be more evident. 'Integrity' is key, yet spinning the truth is the norm. 'Fun' is at your core yet you can’t remember the last time there was a social event or you heard someone laughing their heads off!
Words mean nothing if they are not reinforced with consistent action.
What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too!
I see this so often it’s scary. Transparency is the new trend and for good reason. In order to collaborate effectively and work toward an end goal, it’s important to share openly and often.  However the level of secrecy, hoarding and protecting ones own work is rife in many organisations. People often wait until their work is perfect (whatever that means) before they share it and even then, they are not open to feedback. At it’s worst, they take credit for other people’s work as their own.
There are countless more signs however these are just a few to get you started. Looking at these in isolation, they dont seem too bad. Most organisations will have a touch of one and a sprinkle of another. However when you start to noticea combination of these on a regular basis, your culture is definitely holding you back in a big way!  
These patterns of behaviour can paralyse your organisation, wasting a disproportionate amount of your time, energy and money! Maybe it’s time to take a closers look…? 
Take our free culture assessement to find out more. 
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Topics: culture transformation


Written by Marianna