Watch for These Culture Killers on Your Team

Organizational Culture Team killers

When was the last time you took a step back and observed your team interactions?

Take care to notice the counterproductive behaviors that harm your team’s collaboration, engagement and productivity.

Let’s examine a few characters that hide in many teams. If you allow them to operate without constraints, your culture will suffer.

The ‘devil’s advocate’ is always there to provide reasoning why things will not work. He has no problem criticizing team mates openly. He has solid knowledge and cares about the organization. But his confrontational style hurts the team. While his actions may be well intentioned, team members feel attacked from within their own ranks and over time his behavior yields toxic results. Trust is broken, collaboration suffers and engagement takes a hit.

Don’t tolerate this conduct as it harms others. Help him channel his skills and knowledge in productive ways that help the team to thrive.

The ‘tyrant’ lacks respect for others and operates from a belief that she knows everything better and only she can implement the right solutions. Stepping on toes is her expert skill and she constantly ignores the roles and responsibilities of others. This behavior is detrimental to any team. People on the receiving end of such conduct feel disrespected, become demoralized and ultimately disengaged.

Control this behavior by bringing people together and help them operate within their roles. Understand what is at the root cause of bypassing others and the need to control.

The ‘superhero’ is the most unlikely culprit. He is the one that takes on responsibilities that are beyond his capacity. As a result, nothing gets done well or on time. He is a shining star, highly skilled and good-natured. If the team is dependent on him, there is typically a lot of waiting mixed with mad dashes to meet deadlines.  Late discoveries leading to higher risk become the norm. The unpredictability of this causes teams to miss the mark on their deliverables, leading to frustration through the organization.

As a leader you need to decide where you want him to shine. Burning him out not only harms him and the team, but also your bottom line.

If you just see the dysfunctional conduct that harms your culture, start examining more closely where team members have conflicts.  Chances are they are not talking very openly because there are trust issues. As a result they are unsure about how their concerns will be handled and are keeping issues to themselves or resorting to gossip.

Break this pattern by connecting periodically with all team members, not just your direct reports.  Ask what challenges they are dealing with, what bothers them, what issues come up repeatedly and what you can do to help them do their very best.  Keep consistent focus on building culture and trust to create a thriving environment that will support your bottom line.


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