A company is a giant ecosystem that includes its employees-how they think and act is important

As a business leader, if you’re not happy with your company’s results there are multiple possible reasons. While many of these are easy to see, such as process breakdowns, challenges with quality or delivery, product sales declining, etc. there is also an invisible element called your culture that represents how your employees think and act. If you want to change company results you may need to change company culture.

While all those visible problems definitely need to be addressed, watch the team dynamics closely and see if you have a larger, more global issue with the way the team members behave in different situations.


What to Look For

The root driver of any behavior is an individual’s beliefs and thought processes. The problem is beliefs are not obvious without deeper interaction. This is why the starting point is to observe behaviors, which include actions (what people do) and words (what people say).

A typical list of undesirable behaviors that would impact team and company performance would include things like:



  • Lack of responsibility – this is where people act like they are coated in Teflon. Responsibility doesn’t stick. You’ll hear “not me” or “I didn’t know”, someone will happily agree but not follow through.
  • Blaming – A sibling to lack of responsibility but at a more severe level. A discussion about a big problem will involve finger pointing and “CYA” activity rather than your team stepping up to find a solution.
  • A domineering team member – this is the person who knows all the answers and doesn’t let others talk or contribute. While it might sound like an issue only with that individual, that person’s behavior is damaging the team
  • Me First – notice where team members make decisions that benefit them rather than the customer or other team members. There’s nothing wrong with making your life easier, but do so in the contest of benefiting them whole.
  • Entitlement – this is when people are not willing to work and earn their way to the raise, the promotion, the special event invite, etc. too much entitlement will lead to disappointment and turn over.
  • Waiting for permission or direction – Some employees do great work, happily completing their basic tasks each day. When they discover a problem they simply put it aside and keep going rather than taking initiative to fix it. If they have improvement ideas you won’t know until you ask.

Now that you have this starter list, I’m sure you can identify other attributes in your company that are undesirable and impacting you negatively.

Know What You Would Rather Have

The last thing I want is for you to realize that you have a long list of cultural issues but not do anything about it. For starters, list out what you do want. In many cases it will be the opposite of those negative attributes.

From the list above, wouldn’t it be better if your employees acted responsibly, took ownership and never blamed others, had balance among team member contributions, put the customer, company, and team ahead of themselves, and understood their efforts and results would lead to their raise, promotion, or invite to taking the customer to the big game.

Here’s the good news: just as you can create a vision for your company’s performance in the market, you can add detail about how you want your team to act. Now is the perfect time for you to list the attributes of your desired culture and create the vision of what it looks like once fully in place.