How one little circle can crash a culture

Often unbenownst to a lot of employees and managers, sometimes a mist of trouble hangs over the office cubicles, twisting and twirling, spinning a web of destruction across an organization.  What is it? Where did it come from?  Well, that depends. Let's take a look at this innocent looking circle.

Maybe you don’t feel a connection to what I'm talking about, this circle.  But what if I told you that you could very well possibly be the one that started the day off by making the first bad move (without knowing it of course) - assuming something about a co-worker because, let's say for an example, they came in 15 minutes after the standard office start time.  You did this without any other information than seeing “Sam” walk in the door.

As you turn back to your computer, a thought bubbles up: “He is always late, almost everyday” (misunderstanding).

Like a song that gets stuck in your head, you can’t let it go: “How come he gets away with this when my requests for a flexible schedule are always denied”  (confusion and anger).

Now you are on a roll (Thoughts Gone Wild):  “With all his lateness, he is making our team look like a bunch of slackers.  I don’t want him on our team if this is his way of working.  Let him go somewhere else to mess up their chance of success" (blame, alienation, hostility).

As you think about this scenario, it probably won’t take you long to recognize one of these circles happening somewhere around you right now.  How can you recognize it?  You are either in the middle of one yourself or you are listening to someone talk about one.  Pay attention for a day and listen to how much of this you may personally be involved in.  Try to quantify it.

Next week, I'll talk about how this one little circle impacts an organization’s culture and what can be done to make the circle's influence positive. I am looking forward to hearing your experiences.

- Lesa