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  • Writer's pictureWendy Hornung

"Kill It" Cultures

Does work feel like the Hunger Games?

You might be in fiefdom land.

The fiefdom syndrome divides people and erodes morale. It seems poor leadership, unclear values, and shaky ethics have been cultivating this mindset in workplace environments for a while.

There are a lot of different reasons that companies end up with situations where employees don’t trust each other and hence don’t work together.

I want to break it down into two areas (though there are many possibilities).

Three reasons that you might not trust another person that has more to do with the workplace environment than another person.

  1. Bosses that micromanage make it a challenge to access information employees need which creates what “appears” to be a fiefdom, but it is a symptom of a different problem that has to do with access to information.

  2. The culture may be competitive which means departments are vying for credit, numbers or recognition to increase their value to the organization. So instead of one big team there are lots of little teams.

  3. There is a pure lack of understanding about the shared goals of an organization that comes down to poor communication. A boss who treats employees as though they were hired to do a task, and doesn’t explain “why” they need the employee to do the job severely limits how that employee will be able to respond to changes in the workplace. No context. No flexibility.

These three issues demonstrate how poor leadership can cultivate distrust amongst coworkers and create fiefdoms.

The other way walls are created between people is because of how people behave and interact. The “me first” attitude is a primary cause of personal fiefdoms.

Three reasons that you might not trust another person because of the person.

  1. They are only interested in making themselves look good. This is obvious when they are not supportive of your work, after you have been supportive of theirs.

  2. They take credit for ideas, even when they are the work of others. They are not honest about their role. When people take credit, but do not acknowledge who has supported them, it creates 


  1. Their credits lack substance- though their voice is loud. This is not the same thing as confidence. The “proof is in the pudding” as the old saying goes. Show me, don’t tell me.

If you can relate to the Hunger Games analogy, or you want to understand more about fiefdoms, watch my latest video here.  If you like it, please share or give it a “thumbs up” and subscribe!

If you have questions please email me: and I will answer them on Straight Up! – Ask a Communication Coach.

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