Does office politics disrupt teamwork and productivity? Are there cliquey groups who do not create productive connections with other groups or departments? Do excuses and blame make up a lot of the debate around getting things done?Do you hear management or staff being referred to as the problem? Are your staff sick day levels too high and your staff retention lower than it should be? Are there too many uncharacteristic mistakes and little to no initiative to get around obstacles?
If you’re nodding to these questions, then your work culture is in urgent need of guidance and support.
The work culture is one of the most important parts of any business that relies on people who must work together towards a common vision. It obviously takes many parts to make a successful business, but people are the glue that binds the working parts together and who take the actions that culminate into a realised vision.
The attitude of the collective should be cultivated so it hums like a V12 engine, finely tuned to work as one. Sadly, many work cultures are neglected and mismanaged, becoming disillusioned, then divisive and ultimately destructive. They are often what can drive a business out of business.
Here are 7 common excuses from management that should serve as alarm bells that the work culture is choking the success of the business: –
1. “They just need to do their job, they get paid well enough!”
This is an alarm bell because it’s an indication that the manager has low emotional intelligence in their management style. We all have insecurities and can easily be motivated beyond them. When you tune into the emotional state of your employees and what is causing it, you can help them see their role and their environment differently for a dramatic shift in attitude and productivity.
2. “We’re just going through a rough patch. This will come good soon enough.”
The alarm bell here is denial and a shift of responsibility from the leaders and management being in charge of the company direction. Instead, the power is handed over to external uncontrollable influences that are allowed to dictate the success. Allowing business performance to be separated form internal and consistent decisions never works and this statement is revealing that the state of mind of the person is in that place. Critical thinking and trouble shooting skills and processes need to be implemented.
3. “Praise will just make make ’em cocky and want a pay rise.”
I hear this one way too often no matter how absurd it sounds. We all work to make a difference and if you are caught in this attitude, you are depriving staff of their purpose of knowing if they are making a difference and feeling like they matter. Managing staff who are ‘cocky and out of control’ is an issue I will probably write about another time. However, depriving your work culture of empowering feedback so they can keep wanting to do more of the stuff that is working is a recipe for disaster.
4. “Criticising them will just demotivate and make them want to leave.”
This weakened position is indicative of a manager who has most likely lost great staff because he or she was too harsh on them when they made mistakes or they are avoiding the confrontation. If you give consistent genuine praise then you also have a right to give specific and respectfully delivered criticism. The key is to have developed a trusting and respectful foundation where staff know you’re coming from a good intentioned place. You have to earn trust and respect and when you do, you get to cash in on being more direct to an opened minded work culture without being misinterpreted.
5. “I don’t have the time to do the warm and fuzzy stuff.”
This attitude says that a work culture is more about a hippie movement of love and affection than a peak performance engine with the intelligence, drive and resilience to transform a grand vision into reality. We lose the vital balance when we are only valuing logic and not the inspiration, passion, creativity and intuition that are turned on when your team trusts, respects and reveres each other. They will go the extra mile for each other, customers and you when they have been given many opportunities to have fun, receive inspiring feedback, incentives and rewards.
6. “They are just lazy and need a rocket up them!”
When you have concluded this, there is a good chance you shouldn’t be managing anyone. Laziness is a symptom of demotivation. If you’re not willing to trouble shoot where this lack of motivation is coming from, then you will live a self fulfilling prophecy. You treat them like they deserve abuse and they will undermine you and your vision at every opportunity. Being aggressive and disrespectful well also align with the law of physics; every action will attract an equal and opposite reaction.
7. “I show them everything and they never do anything right.”
This shows a manager creating or perpetuating co-dependent staff that are used to being spoon fed and have learned the manager’s way is the only way. Their autonomy is gone and their motivation is in decline because they are not feeling like they are worthy, capable or intelligent enough to make their role their own.
Doing things for them and giving them answers should be limited to new employees and steep learning curves on the rare occasions where someone being overwhelmed is placing the business at risk. Asking them to come to you with solutions and having the discipline, perspective and maturity to let them make mistakes and implement their solutions is a way to break out of this co-dependence.
It will be difficult in the beginning because they are in the habit of being told what to do, but they will respect and be grateful for being pushed out of their comfortable nest and discovering their wings exist and they can fly with them.
The greatest thing you can do to a work culture beyond consistent quality feedback, incentives and rewards is to focus on the balance between a high work ethic and fun. The more you create fun opportunities the more they will be willing to work smarter and harder for you. Sounds logical enough, but it takes more courage and discipline rather than logic, to get a work culture back in shape.
Have you been stuck in a work culture that was going nowhere? Please share what was done that allowed it to get back on track.