One of the most telling dynamics of an organizational culture is how employees relate to one another. I recall starting in an organization whose employees were very disconnected and lacked cohesion. As I met with each team member individually, loyalty and support for their fellow coworkers was non-existent. Employees were quick to throw their coworkers under the bus, and it seemed team members worked in silos towards their own goals. There was no shared vision or sense of teamwork.
Disconnected team cultures can result in toxic work environments. Individuals will start undermining their coworkers, and even worse, gossip, resistance and negativity can quickly become acceptable forms of communication.
Once you’ve identified that these signs are showing up among your team, it can become quite challenging to reverse these fractured cultural environments. The first place to start is by making sure you’ve established a shared vision for where your organization is headed. Teams that are homogeneous function as a unified force to accomplish organizational objectives. Cooperation among team members can also assist in developing trust.
It’s imperative that team members trust their colleagues, which can be accomplished by conducting team-building activities, creating collaborative working groups, rewarding behaviours such as knowledge sharing and taking accountability. Those that don’t want to work in a culture of collaboration and teamwork will soon find they no longer fit with the culture, and quite often those individuals will move on when they can no longer find support for their divisive behaviours. Changing cultures of distrust cannot be approached with a quick fix; it takes time, dedication, increased communication efforts, and extensive employee support. Most importantly, all members of the leadership team need to understand and support the new direction towards building a new culture.
Lastly, it’s important that there is consistency within the team. When team members are treated differently than their peer, this creates discontent and distrust of leadership. Sometimes that resentment can spread through the team, so it’s important that leaders work cohesively to push the vision and culture in the right direction through adopting collaborative best practices.
You can learn more about inspiring a shared vision by reading The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner.
Melissa has been an organizational leader for over 15 years in various industries. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and recently completed a Master of Arts degree in Leadership. She currently works as an organizational leadership consultant at Fox & Owl Consulting Services.