The invisible non-functional work culture

Everyone was laughing at meetings, from an outside eye, things were perfect. When observed, there was nothing wrong at all. Yet, things were not getting delivered, goals were always missed, misunderstandings between people taking place, and so on… What was happening?

Does this sound familiar to you as well? If so there is a chance that you also are part of one of those companies: Nice from outside, hell from inside. But no one admits this truth, because to them it is all good. Not because they like what is happening, just because they now got used to it. They are more than happy to try new methods, approaches; still, every time wondering why there is no improvement.

As I wrote, from the outside things look amazing. People liking each other, try their best to offer a solution to problems, be there when something happens. This all sounds good, right? It is great! Of course. So what is wrong then?

Think about this scenario: In your organization, there are at least 30 leads and together they have 10 different problems. Basically, 10 different groups working on a different problem. Each thinks their problem is more important than the other. Each thinks the other’s problem is not their problem and therefore does not deserve their time and each thinks if their problem were to be solved, everything would be much better.

Now, remember that all-together-laughing group? They are able to have fun together when it is not about work. Because when their priority is no longer work, there is no need for assessing whose problem is more important or who deserves a solution. It is about having fun.

What would have happened if those 10 problems were to be solved immediately? Would everything be perfect then? Unfortunately not. Because the underlying issues would be still there. That 10 different groups at the workplace would continue existing. Next time there is a problem, the same kind of “mine is more important” discussions will still take place.

On top of it, speaking about problems will become even harder because whenever someone tries to bring up an issue, it will touch a nerve and make someone somehow irritated. Because to them, the problem is only a waste of time and not a real one.

How to approach this kind of problem at the workplace? Short answer: It depends. First, have to figure out where it is coming from and at which level it is happening. Is it mostly happening at higher management or middle management? or directly at operations? When did it originally start? Also, what do people expect to happen if things go on like this? Whether they are aware or not also needs to be questioned well.

Toxic cultures are not toxic just by nature. They grow to become toxic over time. But toxicity also changes from company to company. What matters for change is everyone willing/looking for a change. Without that desire; every attempt just goes to waste and the cycle of toxicity continues.

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