Is Your Corporate Culture Toxic?

corporate culture, leadership, moraleHow healthy is your corporate culture? Are you sure? What do your employees really think and say in private?

From a management perspective, things can look great. Work gets done and employees are diligent. But is this because of your organization and leadership, or in spite of it?

Corporate culture and morale rest solely on an organization’s leaders. If the corporate culture is toxic, and morale is in the swamp, it’s time for managers, from the CEO on down, to look inward for the solutions. Nothing will change until leaders make material changes in themselves.

Have you fallen into these pitfalls?

  • “Do as I say, not as I do.” Is there a dual standard? Are line employees expected to get timecards and documents in on time, while chronic tardiness and carelessness is tolerated in others? Do you expect your staff to be civil and respectful? If so, do you personally and consistently treat everyone, including your staff, with respect and civility? Take an honest look at your leadership profile.  
  • Do you mistake marathon “all hands on deck” meetings for effective communication? The aren’t. One major “state of the union” message per year may be useful; beyond that, brief “need to know” meetings show you respect your staff members’ time. Use meeting time effectively. 
  • Do you expect “team building” events to build morale? They won’t. When things are toxic, you won’t build morale, you’ll build resentment. Your corporate culture is built 24/7, by the everyday actions of the CEO on down. There are no shortcuts.

Corporate culture builders:

  • Do it yourself. It’s easy to say “I don’t ask my staff to do anything I wouldn’t do.” Go ahead and prove it. Step off the pedestal and make the next pot of coffee. If a room isn’t set perfectly for a meeting, move the chairs yourself, without complaint. Don’t be “too important” or think your time is “too valuable” to do basic tasks. Do it because it needs to be done, and not for the accolades. Make it a habit. Just do it. The few minutes you take go a long way to mending corporate culture.
  • Hire competent leaders. Select managers with solid technical and leadership skills. If they don’t have the exact skill set for the position, make sure they have the interest and commitment to quickly fill in the gap. Avoid hiring a friend just because they needed a job. Leaders who are not competent destroy morale.
  • Say thank you, and mean it. Look for the things your staff does every day to support the organization and to make your job easier. Let positive feedback outpace corrective feedback by a ten to one ratio, or more.
  • Ask your staff for advice, and listen. Don’t assume that you are the thinker and they are the doers. Take advantage of their front line experiences and ideas. Appreciate their wisdom and apply it.

No organization can afford a toxic corporate culture. Every leader, from the CEO on down, is responsible for setting the culture through their daily actions. Make a commitment to your corporate culture and staff morale. Walk the walk. There are no short cuts.

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