The culture of your staff will determine the health of your organization. Culture eats everything else for breakfast. Poor culture creates poor everything else. Healthy culture creates healthy organizations, relationships, and outcomes.

We often think there is not much we can do about staff culture, but that is not true. In fact, leaders control the culture of their staff through the training they do, the messages they convey, the example they set, and the honesty of their interactions. You can train your staff toward health, and you can remove staff who will not cooperate as their dishealth spoils the health of the rest of the team. That act in itself sends a very clear message about one's commitment to health.

Five attitudes need to be addressed with staff if you want a healthy culture.

One: Cynicism

Cynicism is deadly to a healthy culture because cynics stand outside the team and throw grenades into the team with snide comments that question the motives, direction, and decisions of others without contributing anything productive to the conversation. 

Cynics stand outside the circle and criticize those inside the circle. How do you counter it? You call it out and declare cynicism to be an anti-value because it does not build but detracts from what the team is trying to do. It is OK to say, "Look, we believe in robust dialogue, but we won't put up with cynical attitudes." The former is constructive, while the latter is destructive. Call it for what it is and declare it illegal on your team.

Two: Lack of buy-in 

These characters also stand outside the circle and refuse to give their wholehearted energy to what the organization is trying to do. Essentially, they withhold key parts of their energy, emotion, and heart from the organization's mission. I often tell staff, "If you cannot serve here with a happy heart and a clear conscience, you must find another place to serve." It's that simple. Those who withhold themselves from fully embracing the mission and vision of the your ministry don't belong there. Say it, have a conversation, but don't allow it to go unaddressed. It is a spirit that kills.

Three: Those who always see the downside

It is good to know the unintended consequences of what one does. It is good to plan for various eventualities. Still, those who always go to the downside and the negative literally rob the rest of the team of joy, possibility, mission, and enthusiasm. 

If you want a healthy culture, you must help those who would throw cold water on new ideas that it is unacceptable behavior.  Innovation, risk, and new paradigms are the coinage of healthy organizations, and they require staff who see possibilities rather than all the negatives in a new idea. There is always a reason not to try something, which keeps organizations from moving forward. Can you help those who always see the downside to see the possibilities? Sometimes. But, if not, they don't belong on a healthy team because they won't produce healthy culture.

Four: Complainers

There is a difference between those who offer constructive observations and those who merely complain. Constructive criticisms are observations that come with a potential solution, while complaints offer no solutions and are simply shots at someone or something. Constructive criticisms are vital to a healthy organization, but complaints as an attitude are deadly to organizational health. Here is a principle to consider. Unless you have a solution, don't come with a complaint. 

Five: Idealists

This one may surprise you. After all, don't you want idealists on your team? It depends! Some idealists exhibit traits of the first four of these attitudes because the team does not meet their expectations. As such, they can resort to cynicism, and complaints, reserve their full buy in and focus on the downside. In good organizations, there are always gaps between what we want to be and who we are. An idealist who won't live with the reality of those gaps actually becomes a liability to your culture. That is what to look out for. Idealists who help you get where you want to go are great. Those focusing on the "gap" will not contribute to a healthy culture.

What keeps leaders from confronting these five attitudes? Fear! We ought to be direct, honest, and clear about the culture we are building and the kinds of people we need on the team to build it. And to be willing to say. "If you don't want to fit our culture, you are in the wrong place. We will help you succeed only if you want to be here and contribute fully to health." It's that simple.

  • Jun 08, 2021
  • Category: News
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