Is Your Culture Dying? Be on the lookout for these 7 culture killers

by Chris Saraceno

One of the best things we can do for the people we lead is to give them a place to work where they can fulfill their potential and go further than they ever thought possible. One way to support them is to make sure our office or our organization runs smoothly.  

To do this, my Theory of 5 mentors and I have found that there are seven culture killers to avoid. Doing this requires paying attention and making sure none of them take root in our company. While any one of them might not seem significant at the time, these behaviors will begin to strangle workplace morale, team member enthusiasm, and overall results.  

Arrogance and Big Ego — Arrogance can make a room feel like it’s too full for anyone else to matter. This is especially true if it’s the leader displaying this quality. There’s a distinct difference between confidence and arrogance. People like confidence, where arrogance cultivates a “me vs. you” mentality that will break a team apart — or prevent it from forming at all.  

Consistent Micromanaging— There is a place for micromanaging in a business — it’s important to take a hands-on approach in guiding people when they’re first starting out in our organization. Consistently hovering over people when they are properly trained and doing their job, however, makes everyone uncomfortable and less productive and motivated. Uncontrolled micromanaging will chase off talented team members who don’t like leaders who are constantly looking over their shoulders. 

Gossip — To be blunt, gossip is a workplace cancer. Once it’s discovered, it needs to be excised — aggressively and immediately. Gossip is simply a tool small people use to make themselves feel powerful at the expense of others, and it has no place in a healthy organization. It is not to be tolerated. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for leaders who see it for the threat that it is. It only takes two words: “STOP IT” (perhaps three more: “OR YOU’RE FIRED”).  

Office Politics — Working at a company is challenging enough without constantly worrying that someone is about to stab us in the back to climb the next rung on the company ladder. Petty power plays, rules for the sake of having rules and other activities that drain people of not only their energy but their will to come into work every day have no place in any organization.  

Let’s make sure our team is just that — A TEAM. We all pull together, or we go nowhere. 

Dishonesty or Lack of Transparency — As leaders, our team members must be able to trust us at our word. As soon as that trust is broken by a lie or by an arbitrary change in the rules — or a change they believe is arbitrary — the best and brightest will take their talents elsewhere. If a leader makes a mistake, people can still respect them, especially if they take full responsibility.  

Equal treatment of Unequals — Treating everyone the same — where promotions are given strictly by seniority, for instance, will cause morale will plummet. If everyone is given the same bonuses at the end of the year, regardless of results or effort, a leader will begin to receive lower effort, initiative, and commitment, which will impact the team’s overall performance and the company’s outcome. Also, our most talented people will look for the door.  

Unresolved Issues — When things need our attention, we must take care of them. Don’t put off getting the necessary equipment repaired or replaced. If a change is needed in our process to make it run smoother, make it happen. When disagreements between team members are causing concerns or conflicts in the office, and there is no sign of it stopping, get involved. Model the behavior that gets things done at the business. 

My Theory of 5 mentors and I believe that we should give our team members every opportunity to shine and show what they are capable of achieving. By giving them a work environment conducive to success, we’re providing them a launchpad so they can soar. 

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