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How to Identify a Negative Team Culture

How to Create a Positive, Powerful Team Culture Part 2:
How to Identify a Negative Team Culture

There is one obstacle that a team can face which is more destructive than any other. That obstacle is simply this — a negative team culture. The truth is, it is not what is happening on the outside of a team that will make or break it, but rather, what is happening on the inside. Challenges, losses, and failures will always happen, but they are easier to move past with a positive team culture. On the other hand, if challenges, losses, and failures come along, and your team culture is negative, your team may never fully recover.

I have spent my career working to create a good business culture and now offer leadership consulting services to large organizations. I want to give back and use what I have learned, to help you identify what it looks like when you do not have an honoring and positive team environment. The purpose of this blog is not to identify what is bad and stop there, but instead, to see what areas you can invest your time and energy into so that your team is the most successful it can be!

1. Lack of truth and trust: In negative environments, we are afraid to tell the truth and be vulnerable. We are afraid of being rejected, misunderstood or punished – so we hide. Hiding then takes away from energy that could be put towards our productivity and creativity.

2. Feeling disconnected (which leads to fear): One consequence of a negative company culture is that people feel isolated, alone and disconnected. People do not feel able to share their ideas or ask for advice when they need it. In these environments, managers or employees are demanding, instead of empowering. The team is afraid of conflict and behaves powerlessly. They believe they will be shot down, belittled, or their work ignored.

3. Little to no laughter: The environment is filled with frustration and powerlessness. The overall morale is low. Mangers and employees feel like they are walking on egg-shells. A fear of punishment permeates the environment and people give off the vibe that they do not want to be there.

4. There is no creativity or entrepreneurial energy: There is a belief that nothing they do matters. They feel they can’t do anything right, so they lose motivation to even try. Employees are not productive with their time and managers feel like they’re input is never heard. People stop taking risks.

5. Priority is placed on individual (instead of team) success: Negative teams have unhealthy competition. People try to climb over other each other to succeed individually. People often feel forced to take sides. There may be a lot of passive aggressive language and behaviors. In an unhealthy environment, competing against other team members is the only way to win. When there is disagreement, they do not prioritize the goal of working together to find the best solution for the company. Instead, they prioritize building a case against another, while competing to recruit team members to support their side. This has an incredibly destructive impact on the team as a whole and rarely do people ever feel like they are actually winning.

The good news is that every single one of these negative experiences can be avoided if we work to help our team establish good relationships with one another. Jim Collins, author of the book, From Good to Great says that people working for great companies “clearly loved what they did, largely because they loved who they did it with.”

A positive company culture is based on honor: the ability to see what is good in others and see that they are made in the image of God. Honor could also be defined as the art of stewarding relationships well. Imagine a team full of people desiring connection, who are looking for ways to value, support and celebrate each other. Now that is powerful! That is a team that cannot be kept down. That is a team that will rise above problems together and succeed. That is positive team culture!

In my last blog, I spoke about some of the benefits of a positive team culture. In the next two blogs, I want to focus on how to build a positive team culture, and then how to restore a negative team culture to help turn it into positive team culture. I look forward to sharing more with you soon and would love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions below!

Bob Hasson

4 responses to “How to Identify a Negative Team Culture

  1. I work in such an environment and it’s destroying me! I used to love going to work and helping others now I hate going in where there is no connection, no laughter and a feeling like you don’t matter but are just a cog in a wheel going round day after day with no one to inspire or appreciate your efforts! Soul destroying!

    1. I am sorry to hear that. I understand how that certainly makes it challenging to feel as invested in the work you are doing and impacts your joy and the rest of your life. I hope the environment improves and that you appreciate yourself for all the work you are doing even if others are not.

    1. Loraine, Yes on recruiting I like to try and put the prospect at ease find out about their family, passions, see their connection skills, I feel that if I can find a person that is a learner and eager I can train easier than a person who is more qualified but inflexible. I hope this helps, Bob

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