4 Ways ‘The Doghouse’ is a Culture Killer

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The boss isn’t talking to you. You’re not being invited into key meetings.

You’re in the doghouse.

Voices tend to hush when you walk into the staff lunch room. You’re not getting “cc’d” on certain team emails.

You’re in the doghouse.

Senior leaders don’t drop by your office anymore. Your opinion isn’t being sought.

You’re definitely in the doghouse.

The doghouse, as just about every leader knows and has likely experienced, is that nasty, cold ‘limbo’ experience you can find yourself in when you have disappointed or frustrated your boss.

Many leaders will banish members of their team to the doghouse without a great deal of thought. If someone has dropped a ball, for some leaders the automatic response is to shun the person until the exasperation has expired.

They put the person in the doghouse.

But as common a response as this might be, the reality is that the doghouse has a way of undermining a healthy culture. Indeed, left unchecked, the presence of a doghouse in your organization can hurt your team’s culture in four devastating ways:\

The doghouse shows ineffective leadership

Choosing to simply ignore someone who has disappointed you shows leadership that refuses to deal with the difficult issues. Rather than ignoring someone, effective leaders keep short accounts and address performance issues quickly.

The doghouse pushes conversations underground

A healthy culture features open, honest communication. Where doghouses abound, key conversations take place in the shadows, in the parking lot or at the coffee shop. Healthy cultures bring these conversations into the open.

The doghouse breeds an inauthentic culture

Where doghouses flourish, teammates learn to avoid touchy topics. Therefore conversations become superficial, causing your culture to stagnate.

The doghouse fosters distrust

When a team member is being ignored and shunned it invariably leads to feelings of distrust towards the leader. Such distrust is deadly for your culture.

When someone on your team has dropped the ball or has somehow frustrated you, there will always be a temptation to simply ignore them and to move on to other priorities. But doing so will take your team down a path to a culture that is less and less healthy.

Face the problems head on. Have the difficult conversations that are required.

In other words if you want a healthy culture there is one step you can take today.

Shut down the doghouse.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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