It’s Monday morning. It’s time for the weekly management meeting. As they filter through the door, they look as if they are attending a funeral. They take their usual seats, open up their laptops and locate the agenda, not that they need to, they know it by heart, it’s always the same 5 items and the CEO starts out with item 1 and every one goes through the usual motions. The 5 people on the management team have been together for the past 3 years. They know the routine by heart. In fact, they know it so well they can almost predict how each of them will answer the questions from the CEO.
If you ask them individually, they all dread these meetings, they just want them to be over and done with. The CEO especially is frustrated. This is his team and they are so far from what we would consider a team as you can be. They are just a group that convenes to share some information that could probably have been just as easily shared on an intranet.
So some people would argue to change the meeting format, make it livelier, sit in bean bag chairs and use lots of post-its etc. But that is not the core problem. When the meetings play out like this, it is just a symptom of something much more serious going on. The core problem here is relationships, the top management team at best don’t have healthy relationships with each other. In the worst cases I have seen, I would even characterize them as toxic and dysfunctional.
Furthermore, the problem here is not so much that they have boring meetings that they all dread, that is their problem you could say. No, the real problem is that if they have rotten relationships with each other, it filters down throughout the organisations and contributes to the dreaded silo thinking. Invariably, employees take sides with their team leader and the relationships across departments suffer accordingly.
Not the best scenario when we are trying to create end-to-end seamless and breath-taking customer experiences.
Company culture starts with the culture in our management team; that sets the tone. That culture is primarily defined by the relationships in that group. If you really want to create a strong culture, you will need to invest time and effort in improving the relationships on your management team. Until you do, not much will change.
What is your experience of top management cultures and how they influence the rest of the system? Leave your comments below or contact me, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.