Four Signs of a Toxic Culture

Four Steps that Make Your Company Culture Spiral Downward

Your culture defines how things are done at your organization. But it’s possible your culture defines how things are not done at your organization. Instead of moving your organization forward, it’s possible your culture is holding you back. If that’s the case, you have a toxic culture.

toxic culture

A toxic culture makes everything more difficult at your organization. Eventually a toxic culture will cause you to lose your best people, decrease your productivity, and reduce your profitability. And it will only get worse unless it’s identified and addressed.

Here are four signs that you have a toxic culture at your workplace.

(Re)Discovering Your Company Purpose

Digging Deep to Recover Your Reason for Being

Your company purpose is key to your brand differentiation. Knowing why you do what you do will help you draw the right customers to your company. But what if along the way you have lost hold of your company purpose? Or what if you never identified your company purpose? The good news it’s never too late for you to (re)discover your company purpose.

company purpose

Now, it’s important to remember that your company purpose has nothing to do with making money. It can’t have anything to do with making money. Because making money is only a by-product of your company purpose.

Here are three ways you can (re)discover your company purpose.

Operationalize Your Brand in Your Company Culture

Four Strategies to Reinforce Your Brand through Your Employees’ Actions

How do you strategically ensure that your customers consistently experience your brand positively? Your customers will receive a clear brand message from your company only if your employees’ actions exude your brand. COVID has created a challenging environment for creating that consistent brand experience. But you can orchestrate that clear brand message if you operationalize your brand throughout your company culture.

operationalize your brand

Your brand message will not be clearly received by your customer if their experiences with your company are not consistent. If your customer receives one message from your advertising and then their experiences with your team contradict those messages, then they will be confused. And confusion kills branding.

Through dozens of interviews with CEOs, I have found that if a company does operationalize their brand, they usually employ only one or two strategies. As a result, most companies do not gain the full benefit of their brand because they do not employ all available strategies to operationalize it. In order of frequency of adoption, here are the four strategies you can use to operationalize your brand.

Don’t Forget to Make an Impact

It’s the Little Things That Make a Big Difference

The other day a fellow CEO told me about another CEO who found their staff camaraderie suffered because of telecommuting. He said that lack of regular contact took its toll on their organizational culture. That was a lesson that he took to heart, especially in this day of social distancing. We don’t have a choice about where we are physically located at this time, but we do have a choice about whether or not we will make an impact on those we are in contact with, even virtually.

make an impact

During this COVID reality, you can’t necessarily be with the people on your team, but you can still reach out to them. Your good intentions don’t have to shelter in place.

Your organizational culture will likely suffer because your people don’t have regular human contact with each other. You will need to be intentional about the contact you do have with your team in order to make up for that loss of face-to-face interaction.

Don’t forget to be human when social distancing. In a COVID world, here are some ways to make an impact on those you can’t physically have around you.

How You Can Help Your Team Combat Fear

Use Your Leadership to Provide Stability in These Times

In these unprecedented times, the world is looking for stability. Just as the markets crave stability, so does your team. That’s because both are afraid of uncertainty. So in your workplace you can use your leadership to provide stability—and help combat fear in your team.

combat fear

Right now everyone is trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, but no one knows if the resulting economic damage from the virus will be worse. And right now everyone on your team is wondering if they will lose their jobs later down the line. So all the fear of uncertainty is taking its toll on your team.

Even if you don’t have all the answers right now, here’s how you can provide some stability for your team and help them combat fear in this crisis.

Maximize the Moment

Three Rules of Engagement in Unprecedented Times

At one time one of my team members acted out of character. At first, I didn’t say anything to her. I just let it go and didn’t press the issue, although I found it concerning. But the next time she said the same thing, I realized I could not let it go. I took the time to initiative to ask her about it. As a result, I discovered what was making her act so unlike herself. Although it was an uncomfortable conversation at first, it gave me a window into what was going on in her head at the time. But that would not have happened if I hadn’t been willing to maximize the moment.

Moment

We are in unprecedented times now. People on your team—and in your family—are going to act in ways that will be unlike their normal behavior. Take the time to find out what’s going on in their heads. Be fully present when leading your team. And don’t avoid these uncomfortable conversations.

In your efforts to maximize the moment, here are three rules of engagement when dealing with people on your team.

Why You Should Consider a Culture Audit

Ignorance About Your Company Culture Is Not Bliss

I recently conducted a culture audit for a company that has an outstanding culture. This company has had a meteoric rise in its six years, especially considering the serious challenges they have overcome in their first years. But a surprising number of employees felt that they were being treated unfairly and that their colleagues were not pulling their full weight. And they would not have known that their employees felt that way without the audit.

culture audit

I’ve found that the worse the culture at an organization, the less likely they want to do anything to fix the culture. It’s the companies that have a good culture—like the one I just did the audit for—that want to make their culture even better.

Ignorance about your company culture is not bliss. Here are three reasons why you should consider having a culture audit.

What Is Good Culture and Why Is It Important?

Why Your Company Needs a Good Culture More than You Think

I attended a conference recently when someone asked me, “What exactly is a good culture?” That was a great question, considering that a lot of people don’t understand what it is or why it is important. And here was my answer: “Good culture is your team’s understanding of how they are to behave even when you are not around.”

culture

Without that definition, it’s easy to ignore the impact and importance of culture. But when people understand it in those terms, they see why it impacts everything that their employees do. And they understand the precarious predicament they put themselves if they don’t take their culture seriously.

Here are five ways that a good culture benefits your organization.

If the Team Doesn’t Know the Rules, It’s Not Their Fault

It's the Leader's Responsibility to Teach the Team the Rules

My family once hosted a foreign exchange student at our house for about a month. When he arrived at our house, his first question to me was “What are the rules at your house?” Not wanting to sound like some kind of ogre, I said, “We don’t have too many rules at our house.” And I told him a couple of rules that we had in our house. And I thought that was that.

rules

Over time, I noticed that he did some things that annoyed me. And my thought was “That’s really rude. Why doesn’t he know any better?”

I told him that I was disappointed with what he was doing. Later he told me, “You didn’t tell me what all the rules were.” Then I realized I couldn’t hold him accountable for something I didn’t tell him. He had asked to know what the rules were, but I didn’t tell him what they all were.

This same thing applies to your employees at your workplace, but they won’t necessarily ask you what the rules of your culture are. That’s incumbent on you to tell them. They won’t know how to operate in your organizational culture if you don’t tell them.

Here are the things you need to tell your people so they know how to follow the rules of your culture.

The Culture Competency That Trips up Most Companies

What's Your Company Culture Score?

From all the culture analyses I have performed, I find it interesting that the vast majority of the organizations I survey have shortcomings in the same area. In my surveys, I look at how these organizations score in Appreciation, Morale, Trust, and Communication. In three out of every four organizations, the Culture Competency that needs the most attention is Communication.

Culture Competency

I find it particularly interesting that this is true even in organizations with high scores. Even where organizations that otherwise have a good culture foundation still struggle with communicating effectively. And unfortunately, when the Culture Competency of Communication suffers, then all the efforts to build Appreciation, Morale, and Trust are undermined as well.

Here are five reasons why organizations have difficulty with getting the Culture Competency of Communication right.