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Culture not working? Make a change

4 min read


Sometimes it feels like your team or organization is running beautifully. Other times, it feels like the team is a little off track. Or a lot off track! What should you pay attention to when evaluating the health of your team’s culture? We might gain some insights from recent Major League Baseball moves at the end of the season here in the U.S.

Manager Bobby Valentine was fired by the Boston Red Sox after his team finished a dismal 69-93 (their worst season performance since 1965). Valentine was brought in only a year ago to get the Red Sox “on track” following the team’s collapse at the end of the 2011 season.

Unfortunately, the benefits the owners hoped for did not come to fruition under Valentine’s management. Here are a few key metrics that showed how the Red Sox culture was operating — and some thoughts to consider when analyzing your own team or organization.

Aligned leadership? Valentine was a controversial hire. He was not the first choice of the team’s general manager, but the franchise president chose Valentine. From spring training forward, Valentine did not get along with three of his assistant coaches (pitching, bench, and bullpen). Valentine went days without speaking more than a few words to his coaches. The pitching coach was fired in August, a move seen by many as overdue.

Consider: How aligned is your team or organization’s senior leadership team? Do senior leaders cooperate and support each other? Do they praise and encourage as much as they redirect or reprimand? Senior leaders more concerned for their own function’s success often erode the success of others.

Top performance? Injuries severely limited the quality of play on the field. Over the course of the season 27 players (13 former All-Stars) went on the disabled list. The roster was never once filled with the team’s best players. The play on the field was subpar, with errors, miscues, and poor hitting adding to the team’s woes.

Consider: How well are benchmark team members — your best players — performing? If not consistently at their best, what’s getting in the way of meeting standards? Don’t assume the issues will go away; they don’t. Address them proactively and engage team members in solutions they believe in.

Values aligned? Valentine questioned the commitment of some players through the media. The GM forced Valentine to apologize. One key player told the media that criticizing players is not the Red Sox way. Valentine’s relationship with players did not improve. In July, frustrated players circumvented Valentine and went directly to the team’s owners to complain about Valentine’s behavior and style. No change was made at that time.

Consider: In the absence of citizenship standards, people will do whatever they think serves them best. Are values standards clearly defined in your team or organization? What consequences (positive or negative) are applied when leaders or staff do or do not demonstrate desired values?

How well is your team or organization’s culture operating right now? What other key culture metrics do you believe are important to monitor? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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