#1 Podcast, Episode 181 – Signs Of A Passive Culture And What To Do

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#1, Episode 181 – Signs of a passive culture and what to do.

In this episode Dom and Corinne explore what to watch out for and some key areas to focus your efforts in changing a Passive Culture.

Green or Passive / Defensive cultures derive over time, and they send implied messages to staff to “not rock the boat”, to take safe shelter and avoid conflict at all costs. In these environments, people often retreat from having tough conversations because it is deemed too risky. People focus too much on NOT getting things wrong, avoiding making mistakes and avoiding negative repercussions which result from having a different opinion from the norm. Passive / defensive cultures encourage people to look for direction rather than seek initiative.

These environments often occur where there is lack of clarity on what the organisation stands for. As a result, people do not know where to invest their time and effort as they are unsure of what the organisations’ mission, values and strategy is.

Passivity often happens in a culture where there are very specific and defined jobs, where it encourages people to operate in a narrow swim lane, as they only own a small part of the outcome. This fosters a working environment where staff become dependent on others for the outcome and are often policy and procedure reliant for direction. Time and again there is no encouragement to think outside the box – even if it’s counter intuitive to the goal.

Often consisting of a rigid and prominent hierarchy, where bureaucracy reigns, people in a Passive / Defensive culture can doubt their own ability to make decisions. These organisations are usually very insular and inward looking. People’s goals are then about satisfying and serving the leaders within, rather than looking at adapting to the world outside, and they are often slow to respond. These foster Conventional behaviours – with resistance to change.

So how do you move to a constructive culture? Most importantly promoting the feeling of employee SAFETY (both psychological and physical) and with CLARITY, as a leader you need to ask what styles you are trying to grow?

Providing structural clarity and getting clear on the mission aligns people with the overarching strategy. Ask yourself as a business, who are you, what do you do, why is it important?

Behaviourally ask, what do you value in your workforce? How do you want people to behave? It’s not just about creating a constructive culture, but maintaining it, executing it daily, and focusing on how individuals behave around that mission.

Increase autonomy. Give staff an opportunity to influence the goals that are set for them, don’t just set it for them. Create clear expectations, lead by example, coach them, develop them, delegate effectively to deliver results.

Broadening the scope of their responsibility is key – look at their job design. Help people assess – what does “good” look like for them by doing their job? And how does it help the organisation?

Growing Achievement styles help people see what difference they make to supporting the strategy and mission statement, by building confidence in their own judgements. To do this, push decision downwards, design jobs for autonomy and self-assessment. Get staff involved in decisions that affect them. Work on Leadership development, that fosters psychological difference through empathy and responsibility. Lastly, recognise and celebrate the progress you make as an organisation!



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