Ten signs of a dysfunctional culture

Ten signs of a dysfunctional culture

We've all heard the saying that culture eats strategy for breakfast, but what happens when that culture is dysfunctional?

How does it impact employee engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and the bottom line? What are the signs your culture is dysfunctional, and what can you do about it?

In this edition, we explore the ten signs of a dysfunctional culture and how they manifest, as well as share five things you can do to cultivate a highly functional culture.


Ten signs of a dysfunctional culture

Here are ten signs that indicate your culture is dysfunctional:

  • Lack of Leadership: When fear, intimidation, a closed mindset and the 'it's my way or the highway' management style is prevalent.
  • Lack of Connection: When employees feel isolated or disconnected from the organisation's purpose, vision and mission.
  • Lack of Alignment: When behaviours are inconsistent or not representative of the organisation's values.
  • Lack of Communication: When information is not flowing or only flows after multiple layers of filtering.
  • Lack of Care: When long work hours and deliverables are prioritised over respect for personal boundaries and well-being.
  • Lack of Trust & Respect: When employees feel disrespected, undervalued, and untrustworthy of doing their jobs.
  • Lack of Collaboration: When competition and winning are deemed more important than collaboration.
  • Lack of Feedback: When giving or receiving feedback is frequently avoided, ignored, or invalidated.
  • Lack of Diversity & Inclusion: When different ideas, perspectives, and viewpoints are excluded without consideration.
  • Lack of Learning: When deadlines, deliverables and performance are constantly prioritised over learning opportunities.


How do you know if your organisation has these dysfunctions?

These dysfunctions could show up in a variety of different ways and are not limited or restricted to:

  • Below average productivity and performance.
  • High levels of absenteeism and turnover.
  • Increased complains from customers.
  • Constant conflict and infighting.
  • Cliques and silos appear throughout the organisation.
  • Employees rely on management to make decisions.
  • The best ideas are not winning - the loudest are.
  • Management is doing all the talking.
  • Employees are stagnant and not growing.
  • Management learn about problems after the fact.


Five things you can do to cultivate a highly functional culture

Firstly, it's essential to recognise that a dysfunctional culture is not something that appears. It is cultivated over a long period and has no quick fix. That said, here are five things you can do to put you on the right track:

  • Define, articulate, and communicate the purpose, vision, and mission: Why do we exist? What are we hoping to achieve? How will we do it? Ideally, a cross-section of your employees would contribute to defining, articulating and communicating your purpose, vision and mission. The more employees you involve in the process, the more connection they will have to it.
  • Define, articulate, and communicate the values and behaviours: What do we value as an organisation? What's important to us as an organisation? How should we live these values? These guiding principles are a reference for behaviours that all employees should demonstrate. The more employees you involve in the process, the more affinity they will have to it.
  • Define and develop leaders: What should leaders in your organisation look like? What competencies should they possess, and how should they show up for employees and the organisation? Once you have clarity around these questions, design, develop, and deploy an appropriate development solution.
  • Give employees a voice: Create opportunities for employees to be heard, create different platforms for employees to share their views, involve employees in decision-making, and seek feedback from employees on what change they would like to see in the organisation.
  • Put the human in human resources: Analyse and redefine all human resources processes and systems, including recruiting, remuneration, developing people, managing performance and promoting. What does our organisation need to do to make this a great workplace?


In conclusion

Culture does eat strategy for breakfast, but there does need to be a strategy behind how we cultivate that culture. A robust and healthy culture fosters an environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and connected to their work and the organisation's goals.

If you would like to gauge the robustness and health of your organisation's culture, Contact Us to take a free culture assessment survey.

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