Bah Humbug, my culture.

It’s no secret, we live in a “facepalm” world, Bah Humbug. 

Do you know what Bah Humbug means? It’s an expression used to reject something in a disagreeable way that has been said by someone else. Admit it, you’re already thinking of an example.

Sadly, this phenomenon is also present in the organizations we work for, and that’s a tragedy.

3 signs our organization’s causing a Bah Humbug

Much like our society, our organizations experience broken cultures, leading to Bah Humbug moments. So, let’s identify 3 common occurrences that indicate a cultural brokenness. My hope is that by understanding these occurrences you’ll be better able to protect your organizations from them. In broken cultures the following happens:

  1. Fear is present: In organizations that are experiencing broken cultures, one of the most common elements is fear; it’s readily available. Fear can be found in the upcoming round of layoffs, or the fact that your team’s numbers are way behind as we approach year-end. Fearful teams lead to fearful actions, and growth is often halted.
  2. Conversations are toxic: Secrets, gossip, and negativity brew from organizations that are culturally broken. It oftentimes seems that you can’t get away from the “drama.”
  3. Your body knows: Your body feels it. Whether it’s lack of sleep, grinding of teeth, or constant anxiety, you feel the weight of the culture coming down on your shoulders. Your body (especially your mind) is one of the best measurement tools regarding assessing your cultural situations. 

But broken cultures don’t have to stay broken

Just because your culture is broken, doesn’t mean you have to say Bah Humbug! Cultures that are intentional with the following items can regain their culture’s integrity, creating a positive situation for all employees. They must:

  1. Care about structure: Structure isn’t just referring to organization, it’s referring to trust. One of the most effective ways to rebuild a broken culture is to reorganize the trust with intentional organizational changes (oftentimes related to understanding each individual team member, and their specific needs, values, and instincts). When organizations are intentional with rebuilding trust, cultures notice.
  2. Provide opportunities: Along with being intentional about building trust, you must also acknowledge the fear, toxic conversations, and physical pains your team has been experiencing. So, provide opportunities for your team to express concerns, ideas, or what they’ve been experiencing. By providing opportunities to communicate, you’ll be more prepared to understand and resolve the cultural issues that are present. 
  3. Bring in a 3rd party: It’s crucial to note that you can’t possibly be objective in resolving cultural issues if you’re a part of the culture. By working to change the culture yourself, you may actually be enabling the negatives of it. So, humble yourself. It’s okay to bring in an outside perspective to help you resolve, revamp, and rebuild. 

As we continue through the holiday season, it’s important if you’re experiencing a Bah Humbug culture that you address it with intentionality.  

Happy holidays, and peace be to all!


Stephen Tisch