Articles categorized as:

Workplace Culture

  • June 24, 2019Why Toxic Teammates Leave on Their Own

    Even when all the coaching efforts and performance improvement plans have been exhausted, it seems impossible to move disengaged employees along. The HR wheels turn slowly and toxic teammates often find a way to stay an inch short of termination for cause. What would it take for them to leave on their own?

    Keep Reading...
  • March 6, 2019Which Actions Build Culture

    It is easy to sit around the conference table and wordsmith a mission statement. Everyone can contribute favorite values like “collaboration,” “innovation,” “compassion,” and “commitment to excellence.” The entire team can voice a commitment to behave in a way that reflects the spirit of the vision. The Human Resources department can reward good behavior and punish violations. Leadership can have the words painted on the wall where employees enter the workspace. Although a good start, these are not the actions that build positive culture.

    Keep Reading...
  • December 4, 2018Below the Tip of the Iceberg

    What you can’t see sometimes has the greatest influence. What is visible isn’t always an accurate reflection of the whole picture. Teams go to great lengths to portray a workplace culture where anyone in their right mind would want to work. Add a ping pong table and a meditation room and you might be able to sell a “best place to work” rating. Sometimes, it’s not until you’ve accepted the job that you realize you’ve been oversold. Consider what lies below the tip of the iceberg.

    Keep Reading...
  • October 2, 2018Company Culture is More than Morale

    Morale is not the path to culture. Positive morale is the outcome of strong company culture. A healthy workplace draws talent in and makes them stay. The reasons people come and remain engaged are as varied as the diversity of the team. Some want growth and learning while others seek to make an impact. Some teammates prioritize compensation and benefits while others value a family-like atmosphere. Whatever the draw, the culture must attract multiple generations and a spectrum of personalities. That’s a tall order. Here’s where to start.

    Keep Reading...
  • June 13, 2018Targeting 100% Engagement

    How much sickness is normal on a healthy team? The Gallup organization has been measuring employee engagement for decades and, until the past year, the numbers haven’t changed much. 30% of your teammates would run through a wall for the company. 50% come to work, go home, and collect their paychecks. 20% are some version of dysfunctional. Have you accepted these ratios as normal on your team?

    Keep Reading...
  • June 20, 2017Buffering the Team from Dysfunction

    It’s often necessary for small, internal teams to insulate themselves from the toxic elements of the larger organization. Perhaps the broader workplace sanctions disrespect while the members of a single department value civility and trust. Maybe the sins of the company aren’t sufficiently unacceptable to warrant leaving the job especially when strong friendships have been built on the smaller team. How might a workgroup in this situation move forward?

    Keep Reading...
  • June 6, 2017Six Steps to Change a Culture

    Changing the culture of a workplace takes a long time. Basic science tells us that living things seek sameness. Even a loosened violin string will tighten itself back up until its new norm has been stabilized. The longer the history of broken morale, the harder it is to set and sustain a new mood. Unless the desired future is enforced consistently, old ways slip back into place. By tolerating unhealthy words and actions, you communicate permission for them to define the values of the group.

    Keep Reading...
  • March 7, 2017New leader. New vision. Same team.

    One of the fundamental principles of human development states that, with each stage, the child inherits both the successes and failures of the previous stage. So it goes in the life cycle of a team. How, then, do you keep history from repeating?

    Keep Reading...
  • November 22, 2016The Gratitude Circle

    For many organizations, the mission and value statement is designed as a guiding light yet often collects dust in a fancy frame in the boardroom. For some, it is the checklist through which day-to-day decisions are filtered. How do you make mission and values real for employees? Consider the gratitude circle exercise in your next full staff meeting. Just follow these five steps:

    Keep Reading...
  • July 14, 2016Leader Behavior, Team Culture, and your Career Path

    The behavior of the team leader can drive employee engagement more powerfully than the mission statement. We all become complicit with the leader’s words and actions by our choice to work in an organization. Healthy or unhealthy, our career path choices are de facto endorsements. All too often, reasonably minded colleagues stay in situations that are making them sick. Some have limited options when workplace culture falls out of alignment with their purpose. Others become free agents. What we tolerate, we sanction.

    Keep Reading...
  • March 22, 2016No More Touchy Feely Team Building Workshops

    All too often, leadership wants to jump ahead to strategic planning before stabilizing the infrastructure of their teams. In the classic Tuckman group theory of Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing, they prefer to skip the “storming” and “norming” phases. They’re uncomfortable – too touchy feely. Let’s just form and perform. Unfortunately, teams can’t sustain performance without storming and norming. The conflict and diversity that characterizes these phases are necessary ingredients for team effectiveness.

    Keep Reading...
  • June 1, 2015The Trailer Park Theory of Teams

    Teams travel through cycles. Year after year, season after season, teams are recalibrated, repopulated, redirected, and redeployed. New talent, new leadership, and new goals drive the change. Amidst these constant transformations, some things stay the same. Consider the analogy of the trailer park. Families in trailers come and go inside this community ecosystem. Yet, the entrance, roadways, concrete pads and utility hookups remain in place. The infrastructure is steady and reliable. So, what comprises your team’s infrastructure?

    Keep Reading...
  • November 24, 2014The 2014 Team Clock “Thank You” List

    Happy Thanksgiving! Chances are you made the 2014 Team Clock “Thank You” list. This year’s list is populated by colleagues of all shapes and sizes. Click below to see your contribution to our partnership.

    Keep Reading...
  • June 3, 2014Recruiting for Resilience

    When the leadership team completed the assessment of their culture, they reached the conclusion that the most effective teammates were the ones most aligned with the energy of change. Conversely, those who struggled with change seemed to be directing their efforts toward resistance rather than their job tasks. They created drag on otherwise promising aerodynamics.

    Keep Reading...
  • June 3, 2013Reshuffling the Deck

    She loved the company. The culture was an ideal fit with her natural enthusiasm and free-spirited personality. Autonomy was encouraged and rewarded. Compensation was competitive and there was plenty of room for growth. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of her co-workers shared the same level of engagement with their jobs. For the unhappy few, leaving was the only way to address the daily drain of the micro-managing supervisor whose oppressive behavior, for some reason, had remained below the radar of senior leadership.

    Keep Reading...
  • April 4, 2013Free Agents

    The grace period has ended. Now that the economy has begun its recovery, gainfully employed talent has joined the throngs of unemployed in searching for the perfect gig. Just a year ago, you were supposed to be happy to have a job…any job. Now, tolerating unhealthy workplace culture is no longer a requirement of vocational survival.

    Keep Reading...
  • September 10, 2012Bully-ectomy

    It took two years. When the new superintendent first addressed the bully problem in her school district, the bullies sat at a table by themselves in the gym commenting under their breaths about that year’s cycle of new leadership. Their disruptions were rude but everyone just took it in stride. They had seen many superintendents come and go over the years. They all eventually abandoned ship. Culture eats change for breakfast. The bullying culture was deeply rooted and it was sure to survive this leader, too.

    Keep Reading...
  • February 1, 2012Workplace Ecosystems

    To the left of my usual blog-writing desk is an aquarium. It has been evolving as an ecosystem for a decade. The fish have changed but their environment has remained largely stable. Something protects it from changing so that its inhabitants can grow.

    Keep Reading...
  • March 30, 2011Third Rail

    Is it wiser to back off and leave well enough alone when a team issue is so hot that controversy is a certain result?

    Keep Reading...
  • July 1, 2010How Does Team Chemistry Influence Productivity?

    Welcome back to the Team Clock Institute’s monthly newsletter. Each month, Breakthrough Teams will invite readers to participate in an Ask/Apply/Act model:

    Ask: this month’s team challenge

    Apply: example story

    Act: action steps for consideratio

    Keep Reading...