Human language

Five crop blockers you need to know about

Source: Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez.

When it comes to why a cultural initiative might fail, it can’t be said that managers don’t try or don’t care.

In a commissioned McCrindle study of 1,000 Australian middle managers, we sought to understand experiences and beliefs about their role in culture to help determine what drives organizational culture and what can cause culture initiatives to fail. Almost all managers (99%) told us they thought culture played a ‘definitely’ or ‘somewhat’ critical role in an organization’s overall success, with a large proportion (74%) of those who answered “yes definitely”. Additionally, more than four in five believe that creating a healthy team culture is a crucial part of their role.

So why do some managers struggle to create the culture they want and instead tolerate the culture they have? Let’s take a look at five key culture blockers:

1. Expectations are not expressed

They may not be written down and we may not always be able to articulate them, but internally we all carry a set of expectations of how we would prefer things to be, which informs our actions and our responses. These expectations are often conveyed but not communicated, leaving team members trying to read between the lines of how things are done. Tory Eletto said: “What is not communicated, is felt. What is felt is interpreted. What is interpreted is often inaccurate.

Tip 1: Take time with your team to bring out what you value and hold in high regard individually, collectively and organizationally. As you learn about these expectations, seek to identify common themes that you aspire to put at the heart of your team culture.

2. Behaviors are not defined

Only 36% of managers strongly agree that their organizational values ​​are more than words and that behavioral expectations are clearly defined. Values ​​on the wall can tell people what you hold in high regard, but clearly defined behaviors show people how those values ​​are lived day to day.

Tip 2: Engage your team in a conversation to create a set of shared behaviors that you believe will help shape the culture you aspire to create in your team.

3. Communication is unclear

Only a third of people leaders see shared organizational language as an important ingredient in creating a healthy culture, which means they may be missing out on a valuable opportunity. Creating a common language can allow your team members to talk about expectations and behaviors in a way that is both consistent and contagious. Your culture can become a language woven into the fabric of your daily conversations when you share memorable yet meaningful phrases, memes, mantras, and stories.

Tip 3: Ask your team how they would tell others about your culture. What words, phrases or stories would they use? Think about how you can capture and amplify them.

4. Comments are not said

Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker wrote that “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.” When critical comments aren’t said, cultural inconsistencies are left to thrive. This responsibility flows in all directions of the team. The conversation you don’t have may just reinforce the culture you don’t want.

Tip 4: Be clear about behaviors that won’t be tolerated on your team and empower each team member to address cultural inconsistencies when they see them.

5. Appreciation is not recognized

Nearly half of people leaders in our study said a lack of reward and recognition contributes to an unhealthy culture in an organization. There’s an old saying that goes, ‘No news, good news’. It turns out that the lack of news is actually very bad news for employees. According to Gallup, you’re about twice as likely to be actively disengaged at work when your manager is ignoring you than if they’re focusing on your weaknesses or negative traits. Take the time to meaningfully reward the behaviors that build the team culture you aspire to create. Because ultimately people repeat and replicate what they see recognized and rewarded.

Tip 5: Make recognition more intentional by considering and then sharing how the celebrated behavior connects to the team’s cultural aspiration.