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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

5 Signs of A Stagnant Culture

Many executives try to make a new start inside an organization with a clear vision and an emphasis on teamwork, but sooner or later they find out that the current work environment, which we call workplace climate, has lost positive energy and has become stagnant. You may still have a very clear vision for direction, but the atmosphere inside the organization has become as muggy as a humid day in Houston, Texas.

If you have a stagnant culture in your company, you already know you are not as successful as you desire to be.

In these types of organizations, the road you want to travel may still be mapped out very clearly, but the conditions of that road may be dirt with ruts and holes! That is the kind of road you will have to proceed very slowly on, hardly the surface for a high-performance vehicle. According to a Bain & Company survey of 365 companies in Europe, Asia, and North America, 81 percent believe that a company lacking a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity. Fewer than 10 percent succeed in building one. Here are some things you should be looking for to identify stagnation in your workplace environment.

  1. The leadership team sees staff members as numbers, not people. They are valuable when they are producing, but less valuable when they are not. All praise is based on performance and very little on conduct or character.

  1. Staff members tolerate their leaders, but there is no trust or respect present. They will still do their work in begrudging compliance but only the most ambitious among them invest themselves in the success of the organization.

  1. The only people recognized as the top performers are the same people who were recognized 5 to 10 years ago. The same people keep getting the same recognition and awards.

  1. With no trust, respect or loyalty present, people will defend what they feel they can which turns into silos and turf wars. Relatively small problems scale up to paralyzing situations.

  1. The leadership team knows there is a lack of enthusiasm and they are not happy about it, so they start treating staff members like unruly teenagers, putting in limiting measures and rules. They try many things to control them, but nothing seems to work.

To try to correct some of these issues, the leadership team may try to send people to conferences, seminars or hire trainers to come in to do classes, but the people, from top to bottom, still are not willing to take responsibility for the climate and make significant change happen. There’s a lot of “they won’t” and “why don’t they” phrases thrown around. It still continues to foster an environment of low expectations and low energy. You might even attract a few enthusiastic people who believe it’s their personal mission to bring life to this organization, but after a few months, they too will give up.

Certainly, if you have a stagnant company culture in your company, you already know you are not as successful as you desire to be. If you become more authoritarian and controlling, things will only get worse.

Turning around a stagnant or toxic company culture takes specialized care and approaches. Take heart, all is not lost, you just have to be willing to make some changes in yourself, in the organization, and have a lot of time and patience.

For more resources on company culture, sign up for Tony’s Monday Morning Coaching Memo.

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