Without clarity and consistency, your team will not know what to expect and what is expected of them. This breeds fear and fear is a workplace culture killer. Many organizations have some level of fear, but you need to take the culture reins and steer clear of hurdles that hold back the potential of your organization.
As a manager, you know that workplace culture is important. According to a recent Booz & Company study, 84% of respondents and 86% of C-Suite respondents believe that their organization’s culture is critical to business success. However, some leaders neglect to drive out fear and relentlessly reinforce positive workplace culture. Most people over simplify what it takes for effective culture management, relying entirely on “best practices” to take charge for them.
There are 8 clear signs that your workplace culture is ruled by fear:
Bad behavior is not visibly confronted.
Compensation, incentives and/or promotions are based on results, not results AND behavior.
“Explosions” are evident periodically from one or more top leaders.
Pre-meetings are the norm.
Communication is poor or one-way.
Email is used to cover your rear or is not proactively used.
A general lack of clarity and alignment about managing work.
Values and expected behaviors are not specifically defined and reinforced.
Does any of this sound familiar? You need to start ruling workplace culture with an iron fist!
Best practices can help, but this isn’t about tips and tricks. This is about making sure you and your team are allocating resources (often scarce) and attention with your workplace values and the impact you want to have on your organization, industry, cause or even the world.
You need to eliminate unnecessary tasks that are eating away at your team’s bandwidth. You need to include them in this process, especially if you hope to foster a collaborative culture. Take organization tools like Likert scales and actually apply them…visibly…with your team. This way everyone is engaged and aware. One great way to kick off this process is with a team building program like Product Pipeline or Chain Reaction.
It is also important to reward aspects of failure. Rewarding failure not only boosts innovation, it also reduces fear. A workplace culture of fear slows organizations down, causes hesitation and drives negative stress. When employees come to you with an error – big or small – maintain civility, help them focus on a solution and then reward behavior around finding what caused the error. If you’ve provided clarity around your expectations from employees, it is important that your team feels comfortable approaching you with issues even if it means negative repercussions for them in the long run.
Remember, this all goes back to individual accountability and intention, clarity and consistency. It’s also important to remember that change will not just occur overnight. It is also important to take productive pause as you work through new challenges and make sure every decision you make is intentional.
What are some of the tactics you’ve used to influence workplace culture? Do you think culture really is such a big deal?