Organizational Culture Stumbling Blocks
“Even those who fancy themselves the most progressive will fight against other kinds of progress, for each of us is convinced that our way is the best way.”— Louis L’Amour
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
A Healthy Culture
The culture of our organization serves as the foundation with which we build all other structures that allow us to accomplish our organizational objectives. A healthy culture is the result of continuous evaluation and development. As we work towards improving our organizational culture, we often encounter stumbling blocks. These stumbling blocks result in lost time and frustration. But, if we can recognize them, we can overcome them.
While the list is many, here are a few of the stumbling blocks that can affect our ability to improve the culture of organization.
Lack of trust
Lack of trust in the boss does not necessarily mean loss of trust. If you have lost the trust of your employees, struggling to improve your organizational culture is only one of your many problems. If your employees do not trust you, they will not follow you. Lack of trust, on the other hand, often stems from the perception that you are unable to identify with the issues of your employees at their level. Employees are leery of supporting initiatives that have been designed from a top-down perspective. Get out on the floor, talk to your employees, roll-up your sleeves and work with them. See the world from their point-of-view. When employees trust that you are setting the cultural GPS based on the view from their level they are far more likely to give you their full support.
“It’s not my job”
The “it’s not my job” mentality can become like a contagious disease once it sets in, spreading through your organization like wildfire. This type of attitude prevents the development of a cohesive, supportive, helpful, encouraging work environment. This negative environment is not conducive to any type of positive cultural growth. Our organizations benefit when we have an adaptable, flexible workforce. As leaders, we need to educate our employees on the benefits of developing new skills, gaining new knowledge, and sharing our skills and knowledge with others. We must set clear expectations and then empower employees to take ownership for their work. The change in mindset will do wonders for your company’s culture.
Lack of empowerment
Employees who are not empowered feel that they have little or no control over their own work. This results in lack of engagement and low morale both of which will have a negative impact on organizational culture. By empowering employees, we provide them with discretion and independence over their work, a belief that their work is important and has meaning, that they are seen as competent to perform well, that they are active participants, and their actions and decisions matter. Empowering employees requires us, as leaders, to trust our employees and to take the risk of allowing those employees to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Empowered employees are more optimistic about the contributions that they can make to the organization. Their optimism is contagious and that is always good for organizational culture.
Negative internal politics
Negative internal politics result in distrust and fear. Anytime your employees feel they have to question the motives, words, or actions of upper management you are going to struggle to get anything accomplished. The best solution to this problem is authenticity and communication.
These stumbling blocks hinder our ability to develop and maintain an organizational culture that supports the vision and goals necessary in a business environment where innovation and agility are key factors to success. These same stumbling blocks affect many other aspects of leadership. Over the next few weeks we will look at other facets of our organizations and some of the other obstacles we encounter.