Why Your Ping Pong Tables Aren’t Working
Let’s get real about corporate culture
You have no idea why your culture sucks. It just does. You bought the ping-pong tables. You started Happy Hour Fridays. And you even do the obligatory birthday cakes for your employees. Yet, people just don’t click. They can’t communicate. Your turnover rates are on the rise and the employees you do keep just don’t seem like they want to be there. Getting people to work together, collaborate, and have a normal conversation is like pulling teeth. And those words you had so beautifully hung on the wall seem meaningless.
All you want is for people to trust each other, support each other, and actually enjoy working together.
You need to find out why your culture is the way it is; and you need to do it quickly.
Here are some signs you might see if you have a corporate culture problem:
- You have trouble attracting new recruits.
- There is a lack of collaboration between teams or team members.
- There is drama between departments, divisions, or locations.
- Individuals talk about each other, rather than work to make things better.
- Leaders talk about the same issues repeatedly without resolution.
- Leaders and employees struggle to support or trust each other.
- People hold back on sharing ideas or helping other departments.
- Employees don’t feel their voice is heard.
It might not be your people.
Your decline in culture can stem from many issues. Sometimes the things you would consider to be positive changes can actually be your problem. And because they’re “good” things, they might not even hit your radar. Has your company recently gone through rapid growth? Did you have a change in company leadership? Did you recently update or implement a new process? Has an influential person either joined or left the organization? A ping-pong table isn’t going to fix how people deal with change, or each other, for that matter.
“While no company is perfect, high performing organizations have a clear understanding of where they are going and everyone understands how they support the effort to get there.”
While no company is perfect, high performing organizations have a clear understanding of where they are going and everyone understands how they support the effort to get there. People believe that their co-workers’ intentions are good and give them the benefit of the doubt even when things don’t go well.
What if there was another way? Here are a few things you can try:
Get people excited again.
We know; that’s easier said than done. But when people are excited, they talk to each other. They share stories. And they’re more engaged. You must encourage people to use their voice. You have to give them authority to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Most importantly, you need to involve them in the important decisions and make it okay for people to talk about their concerns. Show them how they contribute and allow them to be a part of it. Trust them to do the job that they were hired for.
Stop addressing symptoms.
You have to find the root cause in order to actually correct a corporate culture problem. Sometimes you can do that by having 1:1s with employees; other times they might feel more comfortable with an anonymous survey. Growth and change is scary, and not everyone is open to talking about their fears. That can cause them to disengage. Stay aware, watch for signs, and start doing a little digging. When you gather some data and get rid of the “gut check,” communicate the plan to the employees, and then act on it.
Change the way you think about work.
A recent article by business insider detailed the findings that Microsoft saw by switching to a 4-day workweek. Productivity increased by 40%. While this is an extreme example for some companies, it took someone with an open mind to initiate such a change. Other things they tried were reducing meetings to a 30-minute limit and encouraging remote communication. The bottom line is that they changed the way “they’ve always done it,” and gave their people options and flexibility.
Adapt your view of one right culture.
It doesn’t have to be “with us or against us”. Your organization may have many cultures. The culture of your marketing department, with its new ideas and a sales focus, may not be the same as your HR department that is focused on policies, training, and morale. Or the culture may be different on your fast-paced production line versus your relationship-building sales department. The ones to look out for when you’re addressing a culture problem are the ones that “go rogue” and become destructive. But, subcultures can productively help your corporate culture; these subcultures aid in engagement in each department. Embrace the sub-cultures that promote positive relationships at work.
Being an employer of choice requires senior leaders to work purposefully on the culture of their company. Leaders address more than just the symptoms of problems, they collaborate with others to get to the root cause and take action with accountability to the rest of the team. Employees are invited and encouraged to use their voice and to take action. People are highly productive and still have fun!
“You have to find the root cause in order to actually correct a corporate culture problem.”
While this is just a short list, there are many more approaches to building engagement and enhancing the culture of your organization. It’s time to get started.
While no company is perfect, high performing organizations have a clear understanding of where they are going and everyone understands how they support the effort to get there. Click To Tweet