The Seven Culture Killers

There are certain behaviors that, if practiced by the leader or permitted to exist in the office by the leader, will absolutely kill office morale and make our business a miserable place to work. They are behaviors so destructive that, if allowed to take root, will run off the talented individuals you need on your team. These culture killers are:

  • Big Ego and Arrogance — This is especially true if it’s the leader displaying this quality. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. People like confidence; arrogance cultivates a “me vs. you” mentality that will break a team apart or prevent it for forming at all.
  • Micromanaging on a Consistent Basis — We’ll touch on the place of micromanaging a little later in this chapter (it does have a place in the leadership mindset), but consistently hovering over our people when they are properly trained and can do their job makes everyone uncomfortable and less productive.
  • Gossip — There are only two words necessary to address gossip in the work place: STOP IT (perhaps three more: OR YOU’RE FIRED). Gossip is a workplace cancer — once it’s discovered, it needs to be excised aggressively and immediately. Gossip is the tool of small people to make themselves feel powerful at the expense of others. It is not to be tolerated.
  • Office Politics — Our team has enough to deal with when building or operating a company that excels in its field; they shouldn’t have to deal with life being made harder in their own office. Make sure our team is just that — a team. We all pull together, or we go nowhere.
  • Dishonesty or Lack of Transparency — Our team members need to depend on us as a leader and their peers as their teammates. As soon as that trust is broken by someone’s lie or by a change in the rules they didn’t see coming because of a policy change from on high, the best and brightest start looking to take their talents elsewhere. People can respect those who make mistakes and take responsibility. They can understand when policies change if they know the reasoning behind it. What they won’t take is being lied to or blindsided.
  • Lack of Recognition or Equal treatment of Unequals — When hard workers are treated the same as those content to skate by on the bare minimum, it sets a dangerous precedent. By treating everyone the same — even though some are more deserving of praise, promotions, bonuses and the other good things that come with putting in the time and effort to go the extra mile — we will dampen down enthusiasm and reinforce laziness. Let's Not penalize the hard workers and reward the unmotivated.
  • Unresolved Issues — No office runs without challenges. Things will go wrong from time to time, with equipment, personnel, policies or other elements. When things need your attention, take care of them. Don’t put off getting necessary equipment repaired. If a change is needed in our process to make it run smoother, see that it gets made. If disagreements between co-workers are causing problems in the office and show no signs of abating, get involved. Model to your team how things get done in your company.


As a leader, part of our commitment to our people is to give them a place to work where they can fulfill their potential and go further than they ever thought possible. One way to help them is to make sure our office or our company runs smoothly. These culture killers can be avoided, but we must pay attention and make sure none of them take root in our workplace.


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About the Author: Chris Saraceno is the Author of The TheoryOf5 and Vice President/Partner of the Kelly Automotive Group. He is also the Co-Founder of ,Chris is constantly sharing best business practices through speaking engagements, conventions, articles, blogs etc..

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