7 June 2022

4 min.

5 symptoms of a dysfunctional organizational culture

Colleagues gather around the coffee machine to whisper about their displeasure with a management decision announced at the last team meeting. A manager berates a team member in front of the entire office for a missed deadline. Some people’s workload is constantly increased because of repeated absences of teammates. If these different scenarios remind you of your reality at work, it may be a sign that you are operating within a dysfunctional organizational culture.

Here are 5 symptoms that will help you identify if your organization is suffering from a dysfunctional culture.

Deterioration of the work climate

A dysfunctional organizational culture can be perceived by observing the office work atmosphere, which is clearly negative. Employees are unmotivated, stressed, and in a bad mood. Communication between managers and their team members is lacking or completely cut off, which increases the number of side conversations and rumours that circulate throughout the office. There is also an increase in the number of complaints made to management or human resources.

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Micromanagement and lack of trust

  • Do supervisors consistently make detailed to-do lists, including notes on when and how to complete them?
  • Is every job delivered thoroughly reviewed, with large chunks (or the entire job) redone?
  • Are all comings and goings and ongoing activities monitored?

This is called micromanagement. Micromanagement is often entrenched in a dysfunctional organizational culture, and this is quite problematic, as it greatly affects everyone’s engagement levels. On top of that, most people who micromanage don’t even realize it.

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Incivility and harassment

In a dysfunctional organizational culture, it is not uncommon to witness incivility, whether between employees or even across various levels of management. Incivility can take all sorts of forms, subtle or not: not greeting a colleague, being cold in our verbal or written exchanges, being ironic, making a derogatory or disparaging remark about a colleague, taking credit for work done by another, or blaming others for our own mistakes. It can even go as far as harassment when we are talking about repeated abusive or serious behaviour.

Civility in the workplace

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Poor collaboration and underperformance

Another symptom of a dysfunctional organizational culture is a failure or lack of collaboration:

  • Some people are not invited or even do not show up for meetings
  • Teams work in silos
  • Tasks are duplicated or fall between the cracks

There is also underperformance in teams and individuals. Finally, there is a lack of proactivity, initiative, and responsibility throughout the organization, as well as a low level of autonomy in the teams.

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Abnormally high absences and resignations

After reading the four symptoms listed above, it should come as no surprise that an organization with a dysfunctional culture has a lot of difficulties keeping its employees for a long time and therefore has a higher than average turnover rate. Also, there is an abnormally high proportion of absenteeism, work leaves, and burnout. When you know that, according to the Work Institute, replacing a staff member can easily cost the organization 33% of the annual salary of the position in question, you quickly understand that it is to your advantage to work on retaining the talent you already have in the organization.


of the annual salary of the position: this is the cost associated with replacing a staff member

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms in your organization, it’s time to take charge. Don’t hesitate to call on Boostalab to help you develop strategies that will help you turn things around!


According to Gallup, happy, motivated teams and employees are 21% more profitable than unmotivated teams.

Everyone benefits from working in an organization with a strong and healthy culture.

Turnkey solutions

Give yourself the means to create a healthy and successful organizational culture.

  1. 2017, Retention Report: Trends, Reasons & Recommendations, Work institute
  2. 12 avril 2017,The Right Culture: Not Just About Employee Satisfaction, Jim Harter and Anna Marie, Gallup