What are the lead indicators your company may be on the verge of a culture problem?

We’ve all heard the saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. And thanks to the pandemic, even the people who thought that culture was “a nice to have” or “just a token fluffy session at the company offsite”, are starting to realise that there might be something in that culture thing.

Even if your culture was great before the pandemic, we are now seeing people come unstuck because they haven’t evolved their culture to meet the changing needs of people over the last few years.

So what are the signs that you may be on the verge of a culture problem in your company or team?

  • High employee turnover of people you don’t want to lose.
  • Workflow issues with people missing deadlines and blaming others which increases the level of stress on everyone.
  • Poor communication and more conflict about seemingly little things which snowballs quickly.
  • Low employee engagement – especially if these people were previously engaged.
  • Lower levels of trust and psychological safety. People don’t trust others to do the work or have their back. People don’t feel safe to push back on unrealistic deadlines, discuss priorities to better and easier ways to do things.
  • Higher resistance to change and innovation.
  • No cultural induction, and little or no discussion about culture and how it plays out in practice.
  • Your culture isn’t clearly documented (and no – 5 high level values which sit in the top drawer of the CEO do not count as a documented culture!)


And what can you do to stay ahead of the curve so that your culture is one of sustainable high performance?

It’s useful to start with a culture audit to take a deeper dive into what is happening around many cultural aspects. Then make sure you are clear on the business needs as part of this discovery phase.

We have access to a number of surveys to help with this, and we’ve also just developed our own survey and process we can the “High Performance Roadmap”.

Then it’s important to work collaboratively to define the culture. At the very minimum this should include frameworks around accountability, psychological safety, hybrid working, and ways to optimise individual and business effectiveness (yes you might need some support around the neuroscience and psychology of all of these as a starting point).

Use these to develop your key culture indicators (we call them Key BAM Indicators or Key Behaviour, Activities and Mindset Indicators) and integrate them into your team’s KPIs. People need to be constantly assessed as to how they are living up to the culture indicators.

Naturally leaders need to lead by example to help with implementation.

Consistently reward people for living and breathing the culture will help people to live and breathe the culture.

It’s important to have real-time conversations to keep the language going so that the culture gets embedded and maintained. Positive reinforcement is preferable, but if someone is clearly not living up to the culture indicators, an opportunity to have a timely discussion about this should not be ignored.

There is no better time to address culture. The world has changed, the culture that worked for you pre-pandemic, when everyone turned up to the office between certain hours, has changed, or at least needs a really good tweak!

It’s also important to remember that culture is also something that’s never done. It’s constantly needs to be revisited to ensure your current culture is conducive to meeting the required outcomes of the business, and of its people.

If you are interested in learning more about how to define your high performance culture, or about our High Performance Roadmap to audit your current culture, why not book your Performance Call with us?