How’s your Company Culture?

 In Corporate Culture, Employee Engagement

4 Phrases That Signal it’s Time for a Company Culture Checkup

If you’ve ever been to a physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist or the like, then you may have heard of trigger points. Trigger points are focal, hyperirritable spots in our muscles that sometimes cause “referred pain.” For example, pain in your hand or wrist may actually be a knot in your neck. Or, stiff hips can manifest in sore knees. *(This is an analogy and not approved medical advice. I’m a communications professional, not a doctor)

Just like our bodies, a misaligned company culture can lead to unintended consequences. And just like the resulting referred pain, there are some specific phrases you can listen for in your office that may be the result of a culture conflict.

1. “I don’t think I got that email.”

Can you say, “lost in translation?” With hundreds of emails a day “pinging” into our in-boxes, even the most talented, organized, and hard working person can miss a message or two.

This phrase may be a symptomatic of a larger pattern that is part of your organization’s culture:

  • Communication – how is information about projects, tasks, and responsibilities shared? Are there clear communication expectations and channels?
  • Bandwidth – how much work is the team balancing? Are there support systems in place to help?
  • Distractions – is it noisy? Are there too many meetings? How often do you “pop in” un-announced?

2. “I’ll just work on it at home” or, “I don’t need a break.”

We’ve all faced a deadline. We’ve all made a mistake and needed to work overnight to fix it. But, when you hear these phrases frequently, there may be something more going on.

These phrases may point to deeper issues and signal challenges in your underlying culture:

  • Expectations – how high do you set the bar? Do you always assume people know what you’re thinking?
  • Balance – consider the tone you’ve set for dealing with personal problems. At your company, is it expected that your work life should be your “life, life” or do you separate work and life? The friction may be caused by issues you’re unaware of.

3. “It’s almost done.”

Think honestly about the last time you said this (I know you have). Was it really almost done? Or is it like the scenario where you say, “I’m leaving in five minutes,” when you haven’t gotten out of the shower yet.

Hearing “almost” all of the time may be a symptom of these cultural elements:

  • Teamwork – are you set for individual competition or group success?
  • Efficiency – how is time being managed?
  • Control – did they have enough time and space to finish and do it well? Is their some micro-managing happening?

4. “It’s a fast-paced environment.”

Are you moving quickly because you want to or because you need to? Matching your actions with your passions can help you identify cultural discrepancies. Some areas to look at may be:

  • Values – do you share them? Are you moving quickly to get to the same goal? When change happens, are you all on board with it?
  • Fear – is it present? Take the time to interpret the context around what you’ve heard…are people moving quickly because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t?

For every action there is a reaction; but sometimes it’s not a linear path. Keep your ears open to what’s happening and you’ll be better equipped to find your triggers or source.

Measuring your Culture

Culture is ever-present and ever-changing. It can define the success of your company’s employee recruiting, engagement, retention, and more. Culture also takes time, and it doesn’t come easily. We’re here to help.

The CultureTalk Survey System unlocks the cultural patterns of your organization and the Archetypes of those within it. With a family of culture programs and tools, it is flexibly designed for large and small groups. Start your culture conversation today with the CultureTalk Survey.


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