As a business leader, retaining your top talent should be one of your highest priorities. Why? Well, there's the obvious answer of the monetary costs associated with replacing good employees. But beyond that, losing high performers sends a negative signal throughout the company, and very well may have a cascading effect with other team members. In particular, it will affect your remaining top performers.

Simply put, no business should stand by while their key players are churning. But how do you know if your company or team has a negative culture that is the culprit?

Here are a few things that signal the company's culture might be disempowering your people:

Read the company's public ratings

Companies like Glassdoor flip the power scale to employees, because the executive team and leadership are publicly rated. Anyone can look up a company on that site and see what its employees think of management and senior leadership. Once, for a client, I reviewed its almost 300 reviews and, in some instances, it was not pretty, but it served as a major wake-up call to the executive team.

Back in the day, senior leadership could probably get away with a lot more, but situations like what happened to the CEO of Away, Stephanie Korey, in which a series of Slack conversations got leaked and exposed a dysfunctional work culture, are way more common now. 

The reality is this: In the age of the internet, bad behavior is very unlikely to go unnoticed. Whether revealed through sites like Glassdoor or across social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, leadership that leaves people feeling small instead of empowering them can severely damage a company's reputation. As a check-and-balance, have a glance at what is being said about the company to get grounded on what's actually going on. You will quickly learn if the company culture is one of empowerment or not.

Know that erosion of trust is in the details

At its core, company culture shows up in the speaking and listening of employees. From big things to small, company culture is the background on which people interact. It's the moral compass of the company. 

One example of "little things" that make for a toxic culture include senior management or the executive team being late for a meeting or having a habit of canceling meetings last minute, or not doing what they promised when they promised it. 

While a leader may think, "What's a couple of minutes?" as they run late for a team meeting, the lack of respect can easily lead employees to believe that you don't value their time or them. This erodes the integrity of an organization (hence workability), and when integrity is out, trust is breached. This is the kiss of death for a company's culture. One signal that suggests a lack of trust is lots of politicking in the office, for instance. This is, among other things, something to look out for. 

Remember that micromanagement kills creativity

Who wants to stick around with someone breathing down their neck? No one, and it makes people want to leave in a hurry. Micromanagement is an indication that you are unsure of yourself, or worse, unsure of your team's abilities to get things done right. But there are ways to maintain control over a project or your team that don't inadvertently insult them or hinder their creativity. 

To reach this higher level of leadership, you'll need to learn to identify whether micromanagement is an issue, and then address it head-on. 

While the tale of the bad boss may have once been the norm for the full-time worker, today's top performers are expecting and demanding higher standards. If you're hoping to take your business to places it's never gone, you're going to have to do things you've never had to do. A strategic place to start is tackling the company's culture. Do right by your team, and they'll respond in kind.

Published on: Jan 26, 2020
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