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Workplace Culture

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Below 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.

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Company 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.

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Targeting 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?

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Buffering 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?

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Six 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.

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