Simple Sabotage of Company Culture

We have talked for the last three months about various ways Simple Sabotage happens throughout organizations that include:

This month wraps up the discussion by addressing how company culture can be sabotaged.

What is company culture?

A company’s culture defines the appropriate way for leaders and employees to behave within the company and when representing the company. Company culture outlines values established by company leaders. These values are communicated to employees and demonstrated by the leaders throughout the company as well as employees. In other words, culture starts at the top. It shapes employees’ awareness, attitudes, and engagement.

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states, “Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does.”

What does Simple Sabotage of Culture look like?

Simple Sabotage of company culture can occur in a few different ways:

  • Lack of cultural values communicated and demonstrated by leadership.
  • Employee behavior not in line with company culture is not acknowledged and/or addressed.
  • Leadership behavior is not reflective of company culture.

At times, these behaviors can be subtle at first and not noticed until significant damage has taken place. Simple, persistent behaviors and habits can sabotage progress when organizations are unaware of the problems that exist in the first place. If you first know your nemesis, you can combat it with the proper tools.

The Simple Sabotage Field Manual is our inspiration here. Originally published by the United States Office of Strategic Services (now the Central Intelligence Agency) in 1944, this manual was used by agents in motivating or recruiting potential foreign saboteurs. The now declassified booklet provides instructions for undermining progress and productivity by non-violent and unnoticed means. A section of the booklet tells how employees can sabotage their company.

The Field Manual lists a few suggestions for lowering morale and creating confusion. Here are a few significant ones (some are paraphrased):

  • Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned.
  • Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.
  • Misunderstand all sorts of regulations.
  • Cry and sob hysterically on every occasion.

Leaders and employees with these behaviors can negatively impact company culture.

Addressing Simple Sabotage of Company Culture

Simple Sabotage of culture should be managed by:

  • Defining company values, communicating them to employees, displaying them throughout the company, and most importantly, demonstrating them. This means leaders’ behaviors are reflective of company values as well as employees’ behaviors.
  • Creating steps for leaders and employees to be accountable for exhibiting company values. Display company values consistently throughout the organization making them visible to everyone. Talk about them, when appropriate, in your company meetings. These strategies bring clarity and accountability. When company values are not followed, address them swiftly and provide discipline if necessary.
  • Recognizing when employees display behaviors reflective of the company culture and how it impacts the company’s success. Demonstrated behaviors of company values are great influencers for other employees!

CLG helps companies get clear about their vision, mission, goals, strategy, culture, and people. We help organizations see things that may be sabotaging progress. Contact us today to address simple sabotage in your company and get on the road to success.

-Melissa Spangler

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