“Whether it’s caused by culture clash, cultural inertia, or total toxic collapse, broken culture syndrome can sink an organisation. But there’s a cure if leaders take action”. –adapted from Douglas Ready| Does your company suffer from broken culture syndrome?| mitsloan.mit.edu
There are three common triggers of a broken culture syndrome: culture clash disorder, cultural inertia, and toxic collapse.
Culture clash disorders surface in large complex organisations with many business units and differing strategic objectives. The disorder also emerges if some of the leaders in these units behave in ways that violate the core values and guiding principles of the company as a whole.
Cultural inertia. Culture change often causes a feeling of irrelevance to employees, to the change process compelling them to retreat, and experience change as something happening to them. Cultural inertia can also be found in organisations with long histories of success, where leaders in those organisations don’t see or refuse to see, the urgency for change.
Toxic collapse is maybe the most dangerous. This occurs when an organisation is experiencing a widespread erosion of trust. This is when you hear previously committed and engaged employees say they are leaving because this isn’t the company they joined anymore.
Overcoming the broken culture syndrome.
As a leader, it is important to know what challenges or problems you are solving, then focus on those areas. Each trigger of broken culture syndrome will likely require a targeted response.
- Focus on what’s causing broken culture syndrome and dedicate yourself to becoming a community bound by purpose, performance, and principles. I.e. Assess the Culture
- Make explicit statements about your organisation’s uniqueness then engage employees in active discussions about the gaps that might exist between aspirational statements and reality.
- As a leader, role-model your values and narrative and hold the leaders around you accountable for doing the same.
- Make the feeling contagious. Find healthy culture carriers at every level of your organisation so employees begin to trust that the change is taking hold.
- Realign metrics and rewards to create a transparent line of sight between the written and spoken words and noticeable changes, in those appointed to leadership roles, by living the values and guiding principles.
- Continuously care for and feed your culture. If it’s broken, you and your team should fix it together. You can set a new tone and contribute to conversations that will root out broken culture syndrome in your organisation.
A Culture evolves with time, effort and commitment. Start now.