Do you know what your company stands for? Do your employees?

Throughout my 13 years of practice, I have observed many inconsistent corporate cultures.

This is a serious challenge to address because employees working within a weak corporate culture will be unclear on the company’s values and how that affects their role within the organization.

INDICATORS OF WEAK CULTURE

When new employees join the company and fumble to understand what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior, that’s a red flag that culture is weak.

When established employees are moving to the beat of their own drum or entire departments are behaving, however, they see fit, that’s an indicator that company culture is weak.

If you can’t get a pulse on the company culture it might be because there are several different cultures existing simultaneously.

Now, it’s important to note that subcultures can exist within departments. However, even the subcultures should be congruent with the organizations overall culture. For example, The organization encourages a culture of innovation which allows for open dialog and a submittal process for creative ideas. Your department’s subculture may go one step further and set aside a specific time of the week or day for brainstorming and innovation.

There may be a written set of company values and expectations that are reviewed upon employee onboarding, but if that’s the last time those values are discussed- beware. Over time employees may begin to mimic the behavior of their direct supervisor or person in authority even when they know the behavior is not acceptable. This is one way subcultures begin to form.

A COMPANY’S WEAK CULTURE IS TYPICALLY THE ROOT OF SEVERAL PROBLEMS:

  1. DIFFICULT PEOPLE
  2. WEAK OR INCONSISTENT LEADERSHIP AT THE TOP
  3. POLITICAL ISSUES
  4. MOTIVATION AND MORALE
  5. ABSENTEEISM
  6. COMMUNICATION DOWNFALL
  7. POOR TEAMWORK
  8. RETENTION AND ENGAGEMENT LEVELS
  9. INJURIES, ETC.

A strong culture is evidenced by the people supporting the strategy and mission of the company each day – living out the values that are aligned to the strategy, with a strong sense of accountability and commitment.

Organizational culture is shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that help people to understand how to behave in an organization. It’s really the accepted as well as the expected behaviors. This has a strong influence on the people because the organizational culture dictates how they will perform their jobs and how they will interact with each other.

SO, HERE’S A WAKE-UP CALL TO LEADERS. COMPANY CULTURE BEGINS AND ENDS WITH YOUR SENIOR LEADERS.

You can write down a well-intentioned set of guiding principles and values and post them in the breakroom and on the company website, but these core values mean absolutely nothing unless people see them lived out day by day.

Employees don’t care what the mission statement says – they care what they see all around them.

For example, if your written value statement champions open communication and respectful disagreement, but you have people in your organization who are speaking down to, attacking, rejecting the ideas and creative solutions of, and not giving credit to their colleagues and direct reports, you might as well take your value statement and make a campfire over it.

Here’s another example. If your customer and/or industry requires your flexibility and creativity, but you have leaders that are suppressing their colleagues and shooting people down because “we’ve done it this way for 15 years” or “we’ve tried that before and didn’t work” then your leaders are not living the culture that you need to support your business strategy.

I’ve seen numerous cases of inconsistent culture and I can tell you confidently – it always starts at the top.

If you’re not holding senior leaders responsible for the way they talk to people, the way they evaluate people, and the way they develop people, then you are setting your business up for failure- or at best, mediocrity.

SPEAKING ON THE TOPIC OF COMPANY CULTURE AND STRATEGY AT 2016 SHINE THE LIGHT SERIES IN GREENVILLE, SC

Until you get your leaders to consistently demonstrate the values that you want to be reflected in your company culture, your culture will become so weak and diversified that implosion is inevitable.

History holds a plethora of examples of bad leadership causing businesses to fail.

One after another, CEOs come and go. When an organization begins to fail the first person that the board of directors will remove is the CEO. An effective CEO will come in and not just look at the company’s technologies, sophisticated processes, and product, but they will look at the senior team and ask, “What do we represent? What are we about? How well do we function as a team? Do I have the right people on this senior team who demonstrate the values that are needed to inspire and create the commitment to our people at all levels of the organization?”

A sage CEO knows it’s going to take a healthy culture to turn the ship. And if they don’t see evidence they will move swiftly to “remove the dead branch from the tree.”

WHERE TO BEGIN

CEOS must hold senior leaders accountable for the health of the organization. They can assist by establishing accountability measures and team development opportunities. They can also provide these leaders with executive coaches who will help them to “see” how their behaviors influence the culture and what modifications are required for successful leadership. By cultivating a supportive network at the senior level, these leaders will be equipped to help one another carry out the company culture with their direct reports, and so on as their leadership trickles through each level of the organization.

I’m speaking today to CEOs, VPs, C-Suite leadership, executive staff, and boards – do you know what you stand for? And who is standing for you?

ARE YOUR SENIOR LEADERS UPHOLDING THE CULTURE THAT YOU’VE AGREED UPON? WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY TO MOVE THE COMPANY CULTURE FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE?