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What Is The “Us Versus You” Culture?

ByAzleen Abdul Rahim
on

I love football. FYI I’m an Arsenal fan, minus the part that they are pro-genocide . Almost every time when I run my talks about marketing or having conversations with someone about marketing, I often compare the marketing department to a sports team. Like Arsenal, working closely together gunning for the Premier League trophy, success depends on each player knowing their role, trusting their teammates to do their level best, helping those who needs helping hands, and working together towards a common goal. But unlike a well-coached team, I’ve seen too many marketing departments out there hobbled by ‘noob’ leaders who seem to be playing a different game altogether. Just too many of them. Do not ask me how I know this. I just know because I said so.

This different game I was mentioning about earlier is called the “us versus you” culture. Instead of fostering collaboration and trust, these leaders create a divisive and demoralising environment in the company, especially in the marketing department, where they want to be puppet master and everyone else is a puppet. When the puppet moves or acts differently from what the pupper master wants it, the latter is quick to point fingers at the puppet when things go wrong.

That’s right. It sounds a little weird but that is the reality happening in those companies.

Sugarcoating it as ‘guidance’, these noob leaders micromanage the marketing team like there’s no tomorrow. Instead of empowering, they hoard information instead of sharing it, and generally create an atmosphere of fear and resentment. Favouritism is rampant too.

The consequences of this toxic culture are obvious, low morale among the marketing employees, they are scared of doing mistakes, high turnover, uncreative content, missed deadlines, and lackluster activities. When team members are afraid to do their tasks and speak up, innovation dies on the vine. Creativities are no longer there to be found. When trust is absent, collaboration becomes impossible. And when the leader is more concerned with self-preservation than team success, everyone loses.

Unfortunately, there’s no remedy. Speaking up, should there be a chance to do so, is never an option. Usually, these leaders do not want to listen—so why bother. Even if they do, they will listen simply to reply, and not to understand. Nevertheless, there is hope.

Let’s just say, miracle happens and the leaders somehow are willing to listen. They are willing to change. Once the changes are made and the trust culture is now in place, the company will shine almost immediately. That’s the ROI I believe the company will start enjoying short term. This is because the approach of dismantling the “us versus you culture” will not only leads to happier, more engaged employees, but also to better results. When team members feel valued and empowered, they are more likely to go the extra mile. When communication is open, honest and no finger pointing, problems are identified and solved more quickly. And when trust is high, collaboration becomes the norm, leading to more creative and effective solutions.

Marketing is a team sport, and the best teams are those where everyone feels valued, empowered, and supported. By breaking down the “us versus you” culture, embracing a more collaborative approach and avoid the finger-pointing habits, we can create marketing teams that are not only more enjoyable to work on, but also more successful in achieving their goals.

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