Are You Enabling A Dysfunctional Company Culture? Four Questions to Ask Yourself

The Culture Engine book coverIn his new book, The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace, author Chris Edmonds identifies a common problem that keeps many leaders from addressing potentially dysfunctional corporate cultures—they aren’t aware of how bad it really is!

In Edmonds’ experience, leaders—especially senior leaders at the highest levels in organizations, are often disconnected from their company’s culture as experienced by the rank and file members of the organization.

Wondering if you might be out of touch with what is happening in your organization?  Here are four questions to ask yourself to make sure that you are getting an accurate read of what is happening inside your company.

  1. Are you overly insulated? Over time, leaders unintentionally find themselves depending on a select group of people closest to them at the top of the organization to give them information about what is happening throughout all the different layers of the organization.  Edmonds’ suggestion?  Increase the number of your sources inside the company. Get out of the office to learn from different people throughout the organization to ensure you’re getting a bigger, more accurate picture.
  2. Are you genuinely connecting with others? Employees know which leaders are truly interested in them as people, not just in them as contributors or “cogs in a wheel.” Edmonds recommends that leaders connect at a personal level.  Engage in conversations beyond business.  Over time, these genuine connections will enable others to tell you their perceptions, concerns, and hopes.
  3. Do you have truth-tellers? It is all too common for leaders to surround themselves with people who reinforce the leader’s current beliefs and perceptions. However, the most effective leaders also have truth-tellers included in their inner circle—people who aren’t afraid of sharing their perceptions of the reality of the leader’s plans, decisions, and actions. Knowing more people’s truths can help make the leader’s future decisions more effective.
  4. Have you checked your assumptions lately? Edmonds recommends that leaders check their assumptions on a regular basis by sharing them with team members. Listen without defending and continue to refine your assumptions, plans, decisions, and actions.

Creating an uplifting and engaging culture begins by identifying where you are at and where you can improve.  The key is accurate information!

The Culture Engine 2To learn more about ways to accurately identify and improve your corporate culture be sure to check out The Culture Engine microsite.  You can download a free chapter of Edmonds’ new book and see some of the additional questions he recommends for assessing your organization.  For a more in-depth look at the topic, join Edmonds and Weaving Influence host Becky Robinson for a free October 1 webinar on Driving Results With An Organizational Constitution

6 thoughts on “Are You Enabling A Dysfunctional Company Culture? Four Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. A critical competent of building highly performing teams and organization is “Clarity”. Being visible as leader, interacting and engaging with the employees at the different levels in the organization helps create “mutual clarity” both for the employees as well as for the leader(s). When leaders walk, talk and interact with employees in the organization, great learning takes place for them. They learn what employees think of that product, or service, they hear their employees’ “inner voice” about the strategy in place and how they plan t achieve it, and so on. Employees as well benefit from engaging with their leadership team by learning more about them as individuals, what makes them tick and what’s view of the world. Such interaction creates needed synergy and clarity for everyone across the board, helping them move ahead towards achieving sought after objectives. That’s why I then to believe genuine leaders should exist at the center of the organization on the org chart to help her/him better connect with as many levels of the organization as possible to avoid potential organic isolation and insulation.

    • Hi Sam–thanks for adding your voice to the conversation. I especially appreciate where you call out listening for the quiet “inner voice” of the employee. That is one of the subtleties I think that Chris Edmonds is trying to shed some light on in his book. Corporate culture is a tricky thing. It can be hard to define and pin down. Most of us know when it is dysfunctional, but getting at the root causes can be a challenge. Thanks for sharing your thinking!

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  3. I have found that the longer you wait to address dysfunctional teams, the harder it becomes. It is important to recognize this early and face it head one, rather than avoid the inevitable. Negative corporate culture is hard to reverse once the wheels are in motion.

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