by B.J. Rogers

Workplace culture, healthy culture, toxic culture. . .blah, blah, blah. There are books, blogs, conferences, and podcasts all about culture. When a term or concept so completely infiltrates the zeitgeist, it can be easy to tune out. And the spirit of the times – in the workplace anyway – is all about culture.

Even so, we beg you not to dismiss culture as another fad to sell books or make consultants money. Turns out it matters. A lot.

How do you know if you’ve got a workplace or organizational culture that’s kicking a** (in a good way!)? Here are three signs that your culture rocks (or is ON the rocks!):

#1 – I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it
You’ve got engagement up that wazoo. What the heck is engagement? How do you know it when you see it? Does staff have issues with tardiness, follow-through, or failures to communicate? You might well have an engagement problem. Flipside: do people show up excited to work? Do there seem to be friendships across staff? Do people ask questions, propose solutions, and take ownership of their work? If so, chances are your organization is doing something right.

#2 – We(eeeeee) are the champions, my friend
If you regularly struggle to fill vacancies (other than due to a lack of candidates with specific technical expertise – or a pay scale out of line with the market) then you might have some culture issues to address. Ask yourself, when it comes to filling open positions, how do members of your team respond? Do they recommend or refer people? Share news of the postings on social media? Actively engage in finding great new people to join the team? Do they champion your organization? If so, it’s a good sign they value where they work and feel engaged by – and believe in – the work they’re doing.

#3 – Honesty. . .is such a lonely word
In unhealthy cultures, people avoid tough conversations, fail to practice honesty with one another, and engage in the kind of hallway and restroom chatter that undermines unity. In the healthiest of cultures, honest, candid, and caring feedback is the norm. People hold each other responsible for problematic behavior with wholehearted accountability. Everyone assumes feedback is offered in the spirit of kindness and improvement. And it’s as actively sought as it is offered.

Take a look around and ask, “Is my team – am I – engaged? Are people here champions for our organization? Do we cherish feedback?” If the answers are “maybe”, “not-so-much”, or ”no”, then you probably have some culture issues to address (and you’re likely not getting the best work in the most efficient way either). If your answers are pretty much “yes”, or “Heck Yeah!”, then there’s a likelihood that you and your team are headed in the right direction.

Culture matters – and exists whether you acknowledge, cultivate, or think about it or not. So give it the time and attention it deserves, and help your organization be its best self!

If you aren’t sure where to start, or just want to learn more about identifying and maintaining healthy culture for your own organization, join us for Great Culture, Great Results on March 25-26, 2019. You can register here through March 15th!


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