Culture cannot be faked, it has to be genuine

Everyone wants to believe that they have a great corporate culture within their business.  The hard truth is that senior management can be walking around wearing blinders totally unaware that the empire can be on the brink of collapse!  Okay, maybe a bit extreme. It doesn’t change the fact that often the last people to know that culture of your company has become toxic is the leadership team.

Many studies link corporate culture to a company’s overall performance. Jobsite surveyed 1000 workers correlating job satisfaction driven by strong peer relationships.  Forbes profiled a Duke study surveying 1,400 CEO and CFO’s over a 13 month period. 90% of those surveyed felt corporate culture was important to their firms. However, only 15% felt their firm met their culture goals.

It is key for leadership to define the values, beliefs, and attitudes that will guide the organization. Corporate policies and procedures should reflect these cultural traits. Collectively, leadership and staff should work to support the corporate values.

The Garden that is the Corporate Culture

Culture is like a garden and a strong corporate culture can be a thing of beauty. Organizations that are in a positive working mode will report happy employees and increased productivity.  Employees will recommend the company to their peers. Client satisfaction levels soar. It is a chain reaction of positive energy and can feed off itself.

However, if management neglects to support its cultural values and it can cause the garden to quickly wither and die.  Employees will begin to look negatively upon the company.  This can lead to divisions between management and staff, increased gossip, and ultimately employee exodus.  All of these can severely impact productivity, especially in smaller companies. It can even jeopardize client relationships as word gets out of key employee departures.

Steps that leadership can take to reduce the risk of a toxic corporate culture

  1. Share the Mission- Employee motivation can often be as easy as the feeling that their work is meaningful.  A Harvard Business Journal study supports the theory that if a company has a clear vision that is communicated effectively it can exponentially increase productivity.
  2. Engage with your staff- One of the quickest ways to develop a negative corporate culture is to not have a regular cadence of interaction with your employees.  When distance grows between a manager and his team leadership can be perceived as “leadership doesn’t care”.
  3. It goes beyond money- Too many leaders fall into the camp of “you do the work for the paycheck”.  This is not a sustainable approach.  Most employees will only perform at a high level for so long if money is the sole motivator.  Consequently, they will experience burnout and leave the company, its just question of when.  Leaders need to avoid the trap of referring to the paycheck as a driver for employee performance and rather drive home the mission at hand.
  4. No double standards- Leaders who allow a team member to get away with poor performance or a violation of corporate policy can immediately inject a dose of negativity into the corporate culture.  The culture can worsen if you are taking advantage of your position and not following the same rules.  When you expect your team to work until 5:30 don’t be the guy that always leaves at 4!
  5. Get your hands dirty- Team falling behind a critical deadline?  See how you can jump in an help.  Take on the tasks assigned to you and own them! The staff will feel energized as they reduce their workload and recognize you “have their back”!

Developing a winning culture is a continuous process.

Culture cannot be created overnight and is driven by the leadership team. Many companies operate in a manner where culture is being reinforced through pay, perks, or other tangible factors.  Therefore to win long-term communication, respect, and engagement drives corporate culture and breeds a healthy working environment.

What is the culture of your workplace? Do you have a horror story you want to share?  We would love to hear them in the comments section below!