Don’t mess up company culture

Don't mess up company culture

How to mess up company culture

Organizational culture is a delicate and precious thing. Getting it just right is a tremendous challenge, and it’s oh-so easy to absolutely mess up! Company culture is something that takes a long time to build, and even the smallest of things can make it or break it.

#1 – Not knowing what culture actually is

A sure way to completely mess something up – not knowing what the company’s culture is! Or even worse ignoring what’s below the surface.

Below the organizations surface - Organizational culture

#2 – Don’t allow leaders who don’t walk the talk to reign supreme

Leaders don’t always initiate company culture, but they certainly contribute. Don’t allow leaders within organizations to undermine the stated cultural norms. Deal with managers who aren’t on the bus.

Hold them accountable for culture creation and support. Expect them to contribute positively and to embody the organizational culture in their everyday actions. If they can’t – or won’t – replace them with someone who can, and will.

#3 – Don’t allow the brightest people to put themselves above everybody else

Intelligence is obviously highly valued by employers. At the same time, the brightest people can be among the most difficult to manage. That difficulty is heightened if they’re used to getting exceptions and special treatment due to their high performance.

Sometimes the brightest people, whether it’s their intention or not, can be seen as trying to put themselves above everybody else or advance at others’ expense. Their colleagues feel marginalized, which leads to a culture that’s less collaborative, less trusting and centered on individuals.

The challenge for managers is to create an environment where people have enough in common that they feel like they trust each other, and where the norm is always respect. High performance or intelligence can’t be grounds for exceptions, or it doesn’t end up working for anybody.

#4 – Negative attitudes at work stand to contaminate a company’s culture

An article on CNN stated that approximately 5 percent of companies employees could be accounting for 90 percent of people’s work-related woes. Just like the old saying, it’s completely possible in a work setting for one bad apple to spoil the bunch. So better make sure to deal proactively with “toxic employees”.

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

Blog Comments

Nice post. I always find the ‘coffee corner’ an excellent place to get a glimpse of the company’s culture. When lots of complaints are vocalised there, it is clear there is work to be done for the leaders …

Interesting post, especially the part about “5 percent of companies employees could be accounting for 90 percent of people’s work-related woes.” While we do our best to weed out applicants at the hiring stage who might not fit in with our company’s culture and vision, one can never really be sure until you’ve worked with an employee for some time.

Depending on the culture, sometimes when staff are complaining you can stop worrying. When they stop complaining you know you’ve got a big problem…

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