Time for a Culture Checkup

· by Alicia Leary

Alicia is the Marketing Team Lead at HTI. She started her career with HTI in 2015 as a Sales Coordinator.
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So there I am, sitting on rolled out paper that covers a slightly aged examination room table. The doctor is asking me what is wrong and the only thing I can think to say is “I can’t say exactly, but I just don’t feel right.”

Almost every leader has, at some point, sat looking at the numbers, their staff, their customers, and come to the realization that something, somewhere, has shifted. They can’t put their finger on it, but the health of the organization is suffering.

Some indicators are easily quantifiable, but what if that uneasy feeling is that your employees are no longer engaged. Luckily there are several ways to self-diagnose an ailing culture. Here are a few classic symptoms:

  • Sense of Nostalgia- When an organization has lost its sense of self, the first thing we notice a general reminiscing of the “good old days”. Author Simon Sinek calls this phenomenon “The Split”. It’s that moment when what we do parts ways from why we do it. Vision becomes fuzzy and those who knew the organization from it’s origins begin to wish they could hit the rewind button to a better time.
  • Wavering Passion- The buzz….it’s what I live for. A thriving culture with a clear vision has a palpable energy throughout the workday. As passion wains we begin to see more of our people going through the motions and less living for the mission. This is often because they are encouraged to focus on what they do and not why they do it.
  • Engagement- The most easily identifiable, but most often ignored symptom of an ailing culture. What are the numbers saying? If Turnover, PTO or Sick Time are going up, it is a clear symptom that engagement is suffering. The engaged employee wants to be a part of the team, the victory, and the mission. When the allure of staying home outweighs the desire to be a part of the vision, we as leaders have failed those who should be most integral to our success.

What are your symptoms? Is it loss of engagement, loss of innovation, or loss of vision? Just as we need to care for our bodies, the heart of every organization is it’s vision, and the heartbeat resides in its leadership.

If the culture is ailing it may be time for a checkup, for that minor ache today could become a major illness tomorrow.