Top 10 Cultural Mistakes (from the data)

After collecting a ton (seriously…if data were pounds we’d have a herd of elephants) of data, we can confidently talk about the top 10 culture mistakes we are seeing right now. No fluff, just the ranking based on prevalence.

  • Talking about culture a lot, implementing culture change rarely.
    • We found a lot of instances where culture is talked about all the time, and not actually actively practiced often. This could be due to poor communication or poor adherence, but almost always lack of alignment.
  • Talking about culture a lot, implementing culture change that is hollow.
    • We also found many instances where change was implemented, but the structure was not actually aligned throughout the organization in a way that has real impact. This is often due to the 5th bullet.
  • Building a culture around one person’s vision, without honest input from others.
    • Somebody sits in a room, decides how it’s going to go, and then tries to spread that attitude, energy, and effort through a group of people without input. Sometimes the avenues for input exists, but they are not actually utilized in a way that can have impact.
  • Assuming that culture and financial impact are not directly correlated.
    • The research and data doesn’t lie…these things are not only in the same ballpark, they are standing side by side in the same spot on the field.
  • Guessing on how to train culture without any metrics to support decisions.
    • “We need training on conflict resolution” or “Let’s bring someone in to train us on inclusion”…do you need that? How do you know for sure?
  • Driving culture change through broken links (non-believers).
    • You REALLY need to make sure that buy in and alignment is high through those that are implementing change. It is common to have great ideas at the top, high buy in from the staff, and someone in the middle who is breaking the change.
  • Consistently answering “Why do you do it that way” with the phrase “We always have”.
    • Fixed mindset. You got us here. You either need to change your approach, or we need to change who’s here.
  • Trusting the old guard to come up with the new ideas.
    • See above.
  • Putting culture low on the change priority list.
    • Alignment has been mentioned multiple times in this (because it’s a huge deal) and the effectiveness of other changes without a growth oriented culture is often not that high. It’s like putting Mustang engine in your 1997 Ford Probe. It’ll go forward, and it might even perform well for a bit. But the odds are that one day the doors will just fall off anyway.
  • Driving culture through inexperienced culture leaders out of laziness, not empowerment.
    • We identified situations where the goal was to have the participants in the culture do a lot of the work. Think about the sports team where the players are the drivers of the culture. If this only happens because the coach can’t, doesn’t have the time, or doesn’t prioritize culture it won’t be effective. If it’s based on a mature group that is bought in and being empowered, this can be very effective. But make sure you make that call based on data.

See our “Culture Growth Check In” below, for a simple tool to make meetings on growth, culture, and change much more effective through self evaluation.

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