How’s Your Team’s Culture? The Answer May Be More Important Than You Think

June 08, 2015 — Memo to Managers:
Posted by Compliance Communicator

Team culture can be the root cause of a wide variety of issues that make a manager’s job more difficult. Culture is the unwritten set of rules for “how we do things here.” Issues with team culture are often the outcome of one or more violations of cultural values or rules. An unhealthy culture can lead to lost productivity—plus small issues may go unvoiced and become big problems. Then you as the manager are stuck with trying to handle the fallout.

Luckily, there are many early warning signs that you team’s culture may be suffering. If you see or experience even one of these signs, think about digging deeper to assess your team’s health.
•Abusive language, attitude or other disrespect such as bullying
•No one asks questions or brings up concerns and new ideas, which could mean fear of reprisal or inaction
•Favoritism/ cliques
•Poor morale and lack of teamwork/siloed approach
•Sense of entitlement (i.e. padded expense reports; missing supplies; complaining)
•High fatigue/absenteeism and/or attrition
•High number of issues raised to human resources, compliance or legal, especially if anonymous

Assessing Team Culture: Approaches to Determining the Health of Your Team’s Culture

As a manager, you have a unique responsibility to assess and address the health of your team’s culture. You are closer to your employees than the ethics and compliance team, and more in tune with cultural cues that may indicate an intervention is needed. Plus, the tone of your team culture starts with you so some of the fixes may be personal.

It can be difficult to assess a culture that you’re living in day to day. So to get an objective picture of your team culture, consider using one or more of these approaches to gauge your team’s health.

1) One-on-ones. When is the last time you spoke to each of your team members one-on-one? There may be underlying issues that you can address, if you ask them to share.

2) Employee satisfaction surveys. These usually include culture questions that can be very eye-opening. Ask HR for the data cut related to your team from the last employee satisfaction survey—or ask to repeat the survey with only your team.

3) Exit interviews. Ask HR to conduct exit interviews with any of your departing team members to uncover any simmering issues that may be impacting your team culture.

4) Self-reflection. What are you doing that contributes to the current culture? If you are not sure, try a 360 feedback process to solicit input about your own conduct from your team.


Prioritizing your team’s cultural health can be difficult with the many tasks on your plate. But a healthy team culture helps make your team happier and more productive—and more likely to take the time to make ethical business decisions.

If you need additional ideas or help with assessing or addressing team culture issues, please contact the ethics and compliance team. They can help you get to the root causes of an issue and, if necessary, get your team back on the right track.

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