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Memo to Managers
How’s Your Team’s Culture? The Answer May Be More Important Than You Think
Team culture can be the root cause of a wide variety of issues that make a manager’s job more difficult. Culture is the unwritten set of rules for “how we do things here.” Issues with team culture are often the outcome of one or more violations of cultural values or rules. An unhealthy culture can lead to lost productivity—plus small issues may go unvoiced and become big problems. Then you as the manager are stuck with trying to handle the fallout.
Luckily, there are many early warning signs that you team’s culture may be suffering. If you see or experience even one of these signs, think about digging deeper to assess your team’s health.
- Abusive language, attitude or other disrespect such as bullying
- No one asks questions or brings up concerns and new ideas, which could mean fear of reprisal or inaction
- Poor morale and lack of teamwork/siloed approach
- Sense of entitlement (i.e. padded expense reports; missing supplies; complaining)
- High fatigue/absenteeism and/or attrition
- High number of issues raised to human resources, compliance or legal, especially if anonymous
Assessing Team Culture: Approaches to Determining the Health of Your Team’s Culture
As a manager, you have a unique responsibility to assess and address the health of your team’s culture. You are closer to your employees than the ethics and compliance team, and more in tune with cultural cues that may indicate an intervention is needed. Plus, the tone of your team culture starts with you so some of the fixes may be personal.
It can be difficult to assess a culture that you’re living in day to day. So to get an objective picture of your team culture, consider using one or more of these approaches to gauge your team’s health.
1) One-on-ones. When is the last time you spoke to each of your team members one-on-one? There may be underlying issues that you can address, if you ask them to share.
2) Employee satisfaction surveys. These usually include culture questions that can be very eye-opening. Ask HR for the data cut related to your team from the last employee satisfaction survey—or ask to repeat the survey with only your team.
3) Exit interviews. Ask HR to conduct exit interviews with any of your departing team members to uncover any simmering issues that may be impacting your team culture.
4) Self-reflection. What are you doing that contributes to the current culture? If you are not sure, try a 360 feedback process to solicit input about your own conduct from your team.
Prioritizing your team’s cultural health can be difficult with the many tasks on your plate. But a healthy team culture helps make your team happier and more productive—and more likely to take the time to make ethical business decisions.
If you need additional ideas or help with assessing or addressing team culture issues, please contact the ethics and compliance team. They can help you get to the root causes of an issue and, if necessary, get your team back on the right track.
Questions of the Month
Q: I suspect that one of my employees is holding back on sharing issues she’s having with other members of the team. What should I do?
A: Talk one-on-one with the employee and voice your concern for her. Tell her you’ve observed that some of her behaviors seem to indicate something is bothering her. Ask her if she is comfortable telling you what the issue is. Genuine human concern is key here. If she says there is no issue or she is not comfortable telling you, suggest setting up a meeting for her with someone in human resources or compliance so that she can unburden herself. Assure her that you are fine with whatever she has to say and that you will not retaliate or let other team members do so. And commit to addressing her issue if it is something within your responsibility.
Q: When I saw signs that our team culture was getting toxic, I asked my team to complete 360 evaluations on my management approach. I think I am a good manager, so I was shocked that the comments they made about me were so negative. What should I do?
A: It can be difficult to see our own conduct the way others do, especially if they judge our behavior negatively. Remember that we bring to work the behaviors and attitudes we formed within our first team—our family. This may include negativity, favoritism, lack of caring and other traits of a poorly functioning culture. HR can help you with self-awareness tools to create a plan for improvement, but you can begin to turn negative perceptions around now. First, focus on giving positive feedback to your team members. Treat them as you would like to be treated, with caring and respect. Second, examine your management approach and work on areas highlighted by the 360, such as holding people accountable, setting expectations, openly communicating, and doing what you say you will do. Third, look at your own behavior outside the team and outside of work. Nothing you do is a secret to your staff. Even small, positive, personal changes you make can lead to big improvements in your team’s culture.
From our blog, Ethics & Compliance Matters™: Building a Culture-Changing E&C Program: Six Essentials
Compliance programs are effective only to the degree that they help build and support a strong organizational culture. So what does a strong corporate culture look like? And what ethics and compliance tools can help support it?
Using Compliance Communicator
Equipping managers with the skills they need to navigate the E&C challenges they face is critical. Use the content in Compliance Communicator to help keep compliance top of mind with your managers and strengthen your organizational culture. NAVEX Global grants you permission to publish any or all of the content to best suit your needs.
For more valuable content from our Advisory Services team, subscribe to our blog, Ethics & Compliance Matters™. You’ll find perspectives on the latest E&C trends that impact your program, and get insights on increasing program effectiveness.