Symptoms of a Broken Corporate Culture

Symptoms of a Broken Corporate Culture
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Do You Have a Broken Corporate Culture?
If you think you have a broken corporate culture that is getting in the way of where you want to go, then this article is for you.  And you are not alone.  Recent Gallup research found that only 20% of employees feel connected to their organization’s culture.  And McKinsey found that 70% of failed change management transformations are because of culture-related issues.

Corporate Culture Defined
Corporate culture, in its essence, is the collective expression of beliefs, values, behaviors, and team norms within an organization. Organizational culture is the unwritten code that guides interactions, shapes attitudes, and defines the organization’s identity. While that may sound obtuse, your culture is the DNA of your organization and influences every move.

The Impact of Corporate Culture
Culture matters.  Your projects and strategies must go through your culture to be successfully implemented.  Our organizational alignment research found that culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies and teams. Similar to the air we all breathe, workplace culture surrounds us, shapes our actions, and influences our decisions.

Yet, unlike more tangible corporate assets, workplace culture often remains overlooked, underestimated, and misunderstood by leaders.

Symptoms of a Broken Corporate Culture
Corporate culture dysfunction often manifests in subtle yet telling ways. Employees may voice sentiments of disillusionment or exhibit behaviors counterproductive to the organization’s goals. In unhealthy corporate cultures trust erodes, communication falters, and morale dwindles.  The effect is most often a trail of disconnection and discontent.

Do any of these symptoms of a broken corporate culture sound familiar?

The Ripple Effect of a Broken Corporate Culture
The repercussions of a broken corporate culture reverberate far and wide.

  • Customers
    Customers sense the discord and feel the impact through diminished or inconsistent service quality.
  • Employees
    Employees check out — “quiet quitting” — and begin to search for other opportunities where there is a clearer line of sight for them to contribute.
  • Partners
    Partnerships falter because trust wanes and shared objectives diverge.

Ultimately, the organization’s reputation suffers, tarnishing its brand and undermining its competitive edge in the marketplace.

Top 3 Root Causes of a Broken Corporate Culture
Like unwanted weeds choking a potentially healthy garden, a range of factors can contribute to the breakdown of corporate culture. Based upon organizational culture assessment data, here are the top 3 categories to look out for:

  1. Leadership Misalignment
    When espoused corporate values fail to align with actions taken, seeds of discord take root. Employees expect and need leaders to be on the same page with each other and with the overall company mission, vision, values, and strategic priorities.

    Is your senior leadership team aligned enough?

  2. Organizational Silos
    Often erected by departmental rivalries or hierarchical barriers, organizational silos stifle collaboration and typically breed resentment and misalignment. Most meaningful strategic priorities cannot be accomplished without cross-functional collaboration.

    Do you need to break down organizational silos to get where you want to go?

  3. Change Resistance
    The inability to learn, grow, or course correct in the face of change can render organizational cultures, and therefore, entire organizations, brittle. The inability of leaders and their teams to adapt to the inevitable pressures to transform makes it difficult to build a resilient and sustainable corporate culture.

    Is resistance to change thwarting your ability to thrive?

The Bottom Line
Understanding the warning signs of a broken culture is paramount.  Alignment, collaboration, and resilience can transcend dysfunction.  Fixing or avoiding a broken culture requires a concerted effort and a collective commitment to introspection and renewal. Every individual within the organization must recognize their role as custodians of culture, each action shaping the collective ethos for better or for worse.

To learn more about how to create a healthy, high performing, and strategically aligned corporate culture, download the 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture that You Must Get Right

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