How to Identify Bullsh*t in Your Office Culture
Because if you wanna clean it up, you have to find it first.
What is Bullsh*t?
On one hand, bullshit is essentially nonsense. On the other, it could be the most monstrous psychological and societal disease threatening human existence.
We’re kidding. Sort of.
Certainly, everyone has their own take on what exactly constitutes “bullshit,” but for the purposes of our blog, we’re going to talk about bullshit as it relates to the working world—specifically in company culture and branding.
First, we’re going to borrow Harry Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit. We’re paraphrasing here but essentially, bullshit is “what someone feeds you without regard for the truth.”
This disregard for truth is what differentiates bullshit from flat-out lies, and bullshitters from liars. Liars care about the truth. It’s why they cover it up or distort it. They recognize the truth is important. The truth has power. Bullshitters do not value the importance or power of truth. Consequently, bullshit can be a half-truth, a distorted truth, or a truth used in a completely self-indulgent manner.
As Harry Frankfurt asserts, “bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies” precisely because it fails to acknowledge the importance of the truth.
You can probably see how and why work cultures and brand identities are susceptible to becoming bullshit. We have laws and rules in place to deal with lies. But how can we deal with bullshit? Especially when it is hard to spot and isn’t necessarily a lie?
We’ll break down a few ways bullshit can invade a company’s culture and brand and how to deal with it.
How to Identify Bullsh*t in Your Work Culture
Bullshit can show up in your culture in a number of ways. Far too many to list in a single blog post, however, here are a few sure signs your company may be at risk of enabling bullshitters or pedaling bullshit.
- Unfair punishment – Management punishes people for doing the wrong thing even when they didn’t know how, why, or even what they were doing wrong.
- Personal conflict – Internal gossiping and personal disputes (rather than task conflict) occur frequently; workers attempt to solve one another rather than the problem at hand.
- Cutthroat Corporate Climbing – Overly focused on individual competition within a team.
- Picking Favorites – Individuals are rewarded at the expense of the team in effort to “create a competitive” environment, creating tension and discontent among peers.
- Talent Over Integrity – Difficult and/or problematic employees are kept or go unpunished due to their skill.
- Entitlement Mentality – Accepting or demanding individual recognition in front of others.