One way to ensure subpar delivery and increase churn in an organization is to penalize people who ask questions and to have leaders who are unavailable to provide guidance and clarity. Doing so often leads to a lot of fire drills because those working on the project were not given guidance they needed, and the leader(s) only make time to see the product with limited time before it is due.
Micromanagement can simply be a coachable issue or be seen from someone who is in the wrong role. However, when micromanagement becomes the cultural norm anything that appears to deviate from “the established process” is unacceptable and is not given consideration. Over time, this will bring down employee morale and begins to drive mediocre products and services.
Truth and accuracy are often a threat to anyone trying to control and manipulate. If the people who want to control and manipulate are leaders, they will not tolerate “insubordination” from anyone who shares information that is different from their goals.
When trust is low and presuming ill intent about others is the norm, one of the cultural behaviors that will also be seen is that someone who presents high bully or manipulative behavior will not include key players in meetings. They may also deliberately not progress a project or deliverable as a way to exert power.
Another way this indicator is seen is when those who do want to make progress on a task or delivery will spend more time finding solutions that do not involve those who bully and manipulate.
Providing little to no room for good intentions and mistakes is a definite indicator of a low trust culture: Hearing people speak negatively about others is normal; Gossip is high; and Presuming ill motives about others is accepted and reinforced.
Hours in the office (beyond a normal business day) can be used as a punishment / reward system. A sense of control and power often drive this behavior with “dedication” and “team player” being used as leverage. Quality is not as important and the time someone is perceived to be at work, even if that time is not productive.
Lack of planning can be an indicator of an unhealthy culture. Last minute requests are used as power and leverage when these requests upend the existing agenda. Those changing the schedule may enjoy the sense of control that they carry without regard for the chaos and stress it creates for others.
In unhealthy and toxic organizations, other people and teams are seen as competitors, and reaching out to them can bring fear that they will get more credit or acknowledgment than the person(s) reaching out.
The broad belief that information is power is a belief that will drive someone hoard knowledge. This creates chaos and confusion but also gives those who hoard knowledge a sense of power and control. It increases risk to the organization because of all that is hidden. It sets a foundation for political espionage and mind games. Time is spent scheming or trying to find answers versus building products and services that the market needs.
Outside of necessary analytical situations, comparison is a killjoy. Yet, it is a tool often used in work places as a method to evaluate how well someone does their job. This might be effective if objective measurements were installed and humans were not in charge. In healthy organizations, this system can sometimes go badly. In toxic organizations, it can become a tool of political power and control… it can also drive pressure to support unethical behaviors.