10 Workplace Dysfunctions That Create A Toxic Culture

Every organization would like to build a high performance culture, but these ten non-strategic activities are in the way of making serious progress.

Here are the top 10 workplace dysfunctions that consume precious time and suck up emotional energy:

1. Committee work

How many committees do you have working on various projects? What would happen if you reduced the number by 50% and empowered folks to make decisions and get on with execution?

Committees are charged with the responsibility of coming up with recommendations that satisfy everyone. Often these decisions take a long time to reach, they are watered-down and produce forgettable results.

2. Hyper-analysis

Analysis can paralyze an organization and is a symptom of being afraid to make a call. Don’t over analyze. Do the amount of study that is consistent with the decision to be made. A $10 million decision will need more work than a $100K one.

3. Seeking the last 10% of perfection

Read this as trying to get it perfect. It’s a crazy quest that will never happen. The right action to take is to get it “just about right”, execute flawlessly and learn as you go.

4. Co-ordinating

What value is there in this? When teamwork fails or systems are deficient, we don’t need a coordinator, we need people responsible for delivering results not managing process.

5. Consensus building

You can’t craft a solution that represents everyone’s input. So make the call and sell it to others. Decisions with “rounded corners” architected to to satisfy everyone have no originality and satisfy few.

6. Following rules

This stultifies creativity and innovation. Some rules are necessary, but others have outlived their usefulness.

What if you reduced the number of rules and policies by 25% over the next 30 days? Do you think it would open up the possibilities for more employee engagement and better customer service?

7. Punishing failure

Another great way to beat innovation out of a person. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not moving forward. Thomas Edison – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Honour imperfection and those who create it.

8. Giving orders

Managers do it; change leaders avoid it. People are generally motivated to do the right thing, and if not, they haven’t been properly prepared. It’s a leadership issue.

9. Benchmarking

This tool may help you improve your performance but copying someone else will never make you remarkable, unforgettable or give you a strategic advantage. Consider best in class as the highest bar to distinguish yourself from.

10. Doing what the job description says

Internal enforcers want the job description adhered to to control people’s behaviour. “It’s not my job” influences action rather than doing the right thing. Ignore the formal job description when it makes good sense to do so.

We need people to spot opportunities and do whatever it takes to create innovative opportunities regardless of formal job limits. We need people to step out and do amazing things not be bridled by a straight jacket.

This list of ten is a product of the past.

It represents a control management culture.

Stand-out leaders find a way to break away their organizations away from as many of these dysfunctional elements as quickly as possible.

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