5 reasons your company culture may be stuck in a rut


In 2005, Adidas announced they were buying Reebok - a major event in the history of sports merchandise. What could possibly go wrong?

The combined companies faced a multitude of challenges, although arguably none so great as the union of two fiercely competitive and vital corporate cultures.

So loyal were employees to their 'home team' in fact that once the merger had taken place, workers found it difficult to even circulate around the office wearing 'the wrong' logo on their clothing for fear of meeting hostility. This despite a comprehensive change management and communications process.

In an attempt to overcome hostile barriers, HR executives decided to host an inter-team soccer match. Only, rather than mix up the teams, the two sides faced each other on the battleground. The end result? Hospitalization for a number of employees!


Whilst this is an extreme example of how things can go wrong, cultural problems exist within many organizations and can be highly detrimental to performance.

So what causes some of the most common cultural issues?

Here are 5 reasons your company culture may be stuck in a rut:


1. There's fighting at the top

With the best will in the world, no company is going to have a harmonious and functional culture without strong, united leadership. Whatever their disagreements in the boardroom, top execs should be able to agree a course of action without it infecting the rest of the company with factions and corrosive politics. Check here for some of the most notable Chief Executive fallouts.


2. There's no coherent strategy

Do you know what your company stands for, where it's going and what you're there for? If the answer's no, the likelihood is your colleagues don't know either. Even with the most talented minds at the top, without crystal clear and compelling communication, your organization will be a rudderless ship. There's nothing more disheartening than ploughing through the day-to-day without feeling valued or valuable. Cue snarky politics and blurred priorities.


3. You're reinforcing it every day

Like it or not, you have a role to play in crafting the ecosystem that is your company, no matter what your station. Whilst the higher echelons may act incoherently, developers may not see eye to eye with Sales and the coffee may be truly atrocious, joining in the chorus of complaints will only compound the problem. Attitude shifts day-to-day can start to chip away at the problem and eventually reach a tipping point. It worked for Best-Buy (back in the day) and it could work for you. Put a smile on your face, and see if you can Pay it Forward.


4. Your workplace resembles the Death Star

Look up from your screen and take a look around you. What do you see? Is your workplace a hive of activity, awash with collaboration and buzzing with activity, or something else? How conducive is it to the image your company wants to project, and the way it needs to function to be propelled forwards? If your workplace jars with your company image, chances are it's helping to shape your culture in the wrong direction too. Imagine encountering a stranger in a dark, narrow alleyway. Now imagine meeting one in an open, sunlit piazza. What makes you want to talk more? Take a look at these inspiring workplaces.


5. Information's on lock-down

Few things are more frustrating than trying for weeks to get information out of another department, only to watch your project deadlines slipping further and further back.  Welcome to silo-ville. We all acknowledge that other teams have a heavy workload too, but that doesn't stop tension mounting when there's a conflict of priorities. When information is stored and managed locally by teams or individuals, transaction times - and blood pressure - can easily mount between departments. The best way to combat this is by having files stored centrally, whilst using specialist tools to manage access and compliance issues. Your colleagues will thank you!


What cultural issues have you come across in your business, and what can help alleviate them? Have you found any quick-fix remedies? Add your comment below!


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Image by W Minshull, "New Recruits". CC by 2.0