Set the Direction for a Healthy, Vibrant Corporate Culture – 5 Warning Signs and 7 Steps to Take

Picture of a compass representing a company's cultural values

Organizational culture exists by design or by default. Every company has a way they do things…for better or for worse. For better, your employees come to work with a clear sense of purpose and they care about turning in their best performance for the right reasons. For worse, the corporate environment can be so toxic that the company enters a downward spiral that can only end in failure.

Is your company culture good or bad? Where are you on the continuum between a healthy, vibrant culture and a poisonous one?

An Example of a Bad Culture and What Made It So

General Motors is a classic example of a culture that was rotting from the inside. Remember the case of the defective ignition switches that disastrously resulted in up to 300 fatalities? According to the US Attorney, it took more than eleven years for GM to take the necessary actions to fix the problem. Even though GM espoused the values of integrity, safety, accountability, quality, and customer focus, it allowed itself to be infected with a culture of avoiding accountability, stifling bad news and caring more about cost control than the safety of its customers.

In our two plus decades of working with clients and observing a variety of corporate cultures, we have come up with a list of warning signs that can lead to a failing corporate culture.

  • Unstated or unclear values, beliefs and assumptions
    When expectations are unclear, performance results become unclear. Unless an organization’s values and behavioral expectations are specifically stated, clearly explained and consistently reinforced, your default culture may significantly inhibit your success. In GM’s case, while the values seem to have been clearly stated, they do not appear to have been monitored or reinforced. Unfortunately, we often come across leadership teams that proudly display their core values, but make no effort to embed them across their organization.
  • Weak leaders who do not practice what they preach
    When employees see a double standard, your desired culture is in big trouble. Unless the vast majority of leaders consistently model your chosen company culture, it has little chance to cascade throughout the organization and motivate people to do their best. At GM, the US Attorney identified a consistent unwillingness to raise problems for fear that it may delay the launch of a vehicle, cause reprisals or increase costs.
  • Lack of accountability
    When substandard performers who do not improve are tolerated and retained, top talent often becomes discouraged, engagement levels decline and performance standards slip. Additionally, unless the majority of high performers consistently live your company’s desired culture, how can you expect your weaker players to get on board?
  • Closed communications
    When the information flow across an organization is untimely, gossip and behind-closed-door communications undermine trust and defeat the kind of collaboration that successful teams enjoy.
  • Overwork and overstress
    When there is too much work pressure, poor decision-making, errors in judgment and levels of disengagement increase dramatically. Unless people believe that the “struggle is worth it,” you cannot increase performance pressure to improve results.

An Example of a Good Culture and What Made It So

Zappos, the online retailer, loudly proclaimed customer service as its core value and then backed it up by empowering their employees to do whatever they felt necessary to satisfy their customers. The expectations were clear and leaders were role models for ensuring that each and every customer was delighted with Zappos’ service.

What are seven key features of a good corporate culture?

  1. Employees understand, care and believe in the company’s vision and mission.
  2. Employees experience the desired corporate culture on a regular basis and are proud to be a part of it.
  3. The culture motivates the majority of employees to do their best in their job.
  4. Employees believe the corporate culture is essential to achieving the business strategy.
  5. The majority of leaders and high performers consistently model the desired organizational culture.
  6. Substandard performers receive support and must improve if they wish to remain employed.
  7. Open communication allows for the free and timely exchange of information, ideas and concerns.

What You Can Do

Set the direction for a positive performance environment by opening up communication. Work with your team to zero in on the way you want people to think, behave and work. Hold senior managers and employees alike accountable for modeling the desired culture. Promote collaboration by rewarding teams rather than individuals. Seek long-term success over short-term gain.

Culture matters…matters a lot…not only for the overall health of the organization but for its success.

To learn more please download: http://www.lsaglobal.com/whitepaper-download/whitepaper-download-high-performance-culture-drive-strategy/

Share:
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email LinkedIn

Comments are closed.

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich
CEO

Edify

LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

Mike Normant
Learning & Development

ebay

I highly recommend LSA Global to anyone who is looking to improve individual or organizational effectiveness through their top quality programs and broad range of expertise.

Greg Pappas
VP of Human Resources

cybersource-large

On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.

Cam Greig
Associate Director

Roche

Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.

Janice Passarello
Director of Human Resources

harmonic-large

Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

MDT-large-gray

LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

Judith Onton
Vice President Human Resources

cortina-large

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.

Duane Schroeder
Human Resource Manager

alps-large

Each program is preceded by an assessment of the participants. The course is then designed to fit the specific parameters and needs of the group. The highly interactive delivery is provided by recognized experts in their fields. On the spot coaching is provided during the program and each participant receives individual follow-up after the course. Courses can be delivered in-person or virtually. Given the nature of Cisco’s business and the way we operate, these remote workshops are a must for anyone who joins our company. Their work is eye opening. Great content and fantastic delivery.

Frank J. Kuypers
Business Development Manager

cisco-large

We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

Polycom-large-gray

The LSA Global team was very receptive and flexible to our needs every step of the way. Their staff and facilitator demonstrated attention to detail, responsiveness, and professional courtesy. The participants were thrilled with the outcome and rated the communication skills workshop and the facilitator as ‘Excellent’. I’d highly recommend working with the LSA Global team to meet your professional development needs.

John Mastrorilli
FRDP Leader

Intuit

Hyperion has a commitment to lifelong learning. LSA helps us provide the right business sales training, management training programs, and leadership development programs at the right time to meet the needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to listen to my needs and recommend the appropriate facilitators, solutions and content.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
Firmware Engineering Manager

IGT-large-gray

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

icon_expert-blog

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More