There's nothing better than a healthy, collaborative and high-performing team. Every leader strives for their staff to have chemistry. Unfortunately, there are no foolproof ways to hire for it. Any time you put a group of people together, despite how motivated and experienced they may be, it's always a crapshoot on how well they'll mesh.
So when things go right and your staff become friends rather than just colleagues, you can't help but give yourself a big pat on the back (and a sigh of relief). When everyone connects and supports one another, only good things can happen.
And then, something shifts. The group dynamic seems to be taking a turn, yet no one's talking about it. If you've sensed there's underlining tension, you're probably right.
It's time to start paying closer attention and clue in to these five subtle signs that your culture is crumbing before it's too late.
1. It's quiet. Too quiet.
When the office buzz has turned into an indefinite moment of silence, there's cause for concern. If your staff used to opt for face-to-face conversations and now only email back and forth, it may be time to dive deeper into any underlining issues.
The mode of communication and the frequency in which ideas and thoughts are shared are instrumental for a positive culture. While we all have those times when we're buried in our computer screens, for the most part, a talkative staff is a healthy one.
A constant hum in the office means energy is building. It sets the foundation for strong relationships to form. If you can hear a pin drop, than none of this is happening.
2. Blame is being assigned, not shared.
As soon as people start pointing fingers, then you know you have a problem. Functional teams share the blame equally. When a deadline is missed or a target isn't met, very rarely is it the result of one person's actions. A strong team would never point the finger, but rather collectively share the responsibility.
3. The office is a dump.
People who are happy take pride in what they do and where they work. They care about their surroundings. So when you start to notice unpacked boxes stacked in the hallways or dishes piling in the lunch room when your staff used to be on top of it, it may be a sign of a shift in attitude towards the job and the company.
4. No one's raising their hand.
It used to be that when a big project came in or a new client was signed, everyone shared the responsibility. Assignments were divvied up, brainstorms were frequent, and everyone supported one another to meet the deadline.
Now, no one seems to want to take part. In fact, each person prefers to take the project on individually rather than work together.
5. Everyone eats lunch at their desk.
What was once a buzzing lunch room is now full of tumbleweeds. And it's not because everyone's eating together at a local cafe. Instead, they're at their desks mindlessly eating their sandwich.
Sometimes work can get so busy that taking a half hour for lunch is out of the question. However, if your team used to spend lunches together and have now gone their separate ways, it's definitely worth investigating further. The faster you act, the quicker you can start repairing that once thriving culture.