+44 (0)1234 757575

13 simple ways to sabotage your office culture

What’s the key to leadership success?

Is it setting aspirational targets for your team, and doing your all to hit them?

Is it paying the big bucks to bring a star member to the team, who will outshine the others to give them something to aim for?

Perhaps it’s as simple as determining a routine and ensuring that everyone sticks to it; if it works it works, right?

There are a lot of theories on what leads to success – but in reality, the culture in your workplace is the main ingredient to determine the difference between content, successful employees who achieve their goals, and a high turnover of disillusioned, frustrated staff who never really connect with your brand – and leave it in the gutter as they walk out the door.

Our job, in partnership with our clients, is to develop the skills and understanding of leaders and managers, support the people within their teams, and communicate effectively. This helps organisations to grow, to create a successful culture where people feel welcome, developing and strengthening their professional skills – benefiting the company and the individuals who make that company shine.

We have written a lot of articles with tips for how to create this kind of culture – but we don’t often talk about the negative traits we’ve witnessed in our many years in business; those leaders who chip away at – or outright obliterate – their team’s morale and wellbeing. Bouncing those behaviours around recently, discussing the difficult leaders we’ve come across, we thought we’d share our unlucky 13 – the leadership behaviours you absolutely don’t want to encourage in your organisation!

So, what exactly is it that a leader can do which might sabotage an organisation’s culture – and what habits should you avoid at all costs? Here are our top tips for bad behaviours that inevitably lead to the destruction of your team’s success.

13 things to look out for

Be a bossy boss

Everyone knows how great it feels to be dictated to like you’re a poorly trained pup on the verge of a scolding! If you’re in charge, do be sure that everyone is constantly reminded to respect your authority and do as they’re told, no questions asked! Picture 1990s Cartman from South Park and you’re on the right track!


You can’t be bossy without sticking your finger into every pie – don’t leave anyone out; if anyone looks like they might know what they’re doing without your input head over there quick sharp and insist you know a better way; top marks here for getting it totally wrong, and undoing all their hard work!

Enforce strict working hours and chain people to their desks (time tracking)

None of this flexible working nonsense – be sure to let everyone know that even their contracted hours would make them look lazy! Lunch break schmunch break, everyone knows that relentlessly clocking up desk time shows commitment!

“That could have been an email” meetings

There’s no better way to show people how much more important you are than them than dragging them away from their work to have a meeting where nothing important is said or achieved, and an hour is wasted on discussing a message that could much more effectively have been conveyed in a quick email to the relevant member of the team. For extra points, be sure to admonish them for not completing tasks because you dragged them away from them to be in the meeting you insisted they came to!

Dismiss the team’s feedback

This isn’t a democracy! Sure, there might be some good ideas and improvements for the whole organisation floating in the minds of your workforce – but we can’t have them thinking the business could actually be improved by them! Perhaps you could let a select few team members feed these ideas back to you, so that you can claim them as your own if they are implemented – but for maximum efficiency, ignore them altogether!

“This is the way it’s always been done”

Like the suggestion above, implementing new ideas and changing the status quo could improve processes, could streamline work that people are bogged down in, and could open up chances for people to reach out to more customers, secure more work, improve turnover and feel more satisfied in their roles…but why go to all that effort when you’ve followed the same process since 1986 and it’s never done you wrong? Stamp any hints of creativity out before it spreads!


Any fan of Mary Poppins (the original!) knows that the Gentlemen who ran the bank knew how business ought to look! Squash any variety and excitement before it gives people ideas, and keep things an even, monotonous shade of grey, from dress code to office décor.

Tone of voice

Asserting your authority at every turn means being firm – and using the appropriately firm tone to speak (down) to your employees and subordinates. In fact, do use the word subordinates – they need to know who stands on top of the heap!

Segregation – divide and conquer! 

If you can, put some effort into derailing any potential workplace friendships or supportive paired working relationships. In an ideal world the whole team will be a little on edge at all times, unsure who they can trust – which means that nobody will feel brave enough to badmouth you!

Feel all your feelings on the outside

You may have little time to listen to their problems and woes – but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be aware of yours; particularly indulge your bad moods, throw a good temper tantrum, belittle those team members with your unpredictable temperament and have them all tip toe around your stroppy moods.

Lax standards

Why deliver great quality work to your customers when you could…well, not? If you can be slapdash, and your team all pick up on that lax approach to maintaining standards, you could all drift mindlessly through the day much more easily.

Open criticism and public shaming

Of course mistakes happen to everyone; we’re all capable of them – but at no point should anyone suspect that you’re an understanding and flexible type; be sure to loudly name and shame the mistake maker – show them up in front of the other members of the team – and that will stop anyone else ever slipping up!

Hugely competitive and target driven

When in doubt – add more pressure! Pit the whole team against each other, set unrealistic goals and push, push, push people to – and beyond – the brink of their ability, sanity and capabilities.

And there you have it! Thirteen top tips for undermining the confidence and happiness of your whole team, derailing any chance of a creative and supportive workplace culture!

Doesn’t it all just sound horrible? We certainly don’t want to work in a place where any of the behaviours described here take place – and we really hope you don’t either.

If you’ve ever met one of the horrible bosses described, and you want to make absolutely certain that your organisation is nothing like these examples, give us a call. We can help you to reshape the culture in your organisation.

Let’s learn how to shake things up, boost confidence and achievement in your whole workforce, and set your future up for success. Sound good? Just ASK us how; call 01234 757575 or email us at hello@askeurope.com

You may also be interested in the following...

Scroll to Top
Home working article front cover

Access your free copy
of the full article!!!

"*" indicates required fields