Amazon recently made headlines after some of its former employees publicly lambasted the online shopping juggernaut’s “bruising” work culture.
Amazon, of course, fired back, and the debate is still on, but it just goes to show you how corporate culture has made its way to the forefront of the workplace and news.
Our initial posts in our Company Culture blog series have shown the good, the bad, and a little bit of the ugly when it comes to the concept of company culture. While it’s important to understand the many positive ways you can put your company on the right track to upholding a healthy culture, being aware of common mistakes is also very helpful.
No Guarantees Except for Failure
It is one of the ironies of leadership that there are simply no ways to guarantee success. Unanticipated events can always derail the most successful companies. For example, even the mighty IBM, known for years as one of the world’s best-managed companies, almost went out of business in the '80s due to changes in technology.
However, while there are no guarantees for success, there are many ways to virtually guarantee corporate failure. The simple fact is that most companies go on existing with mediocre cultures and survive until a superior competitor comes along. The world of acquisitions and mergers thrives on those companies driven by powerful cultures gobbling up the weaker players.
When management fails to cultivate and maintain the environments to which employees are attracted, it's often oversight and omission. On the other hand, there are active and overt ways management can erode and undermine any efforts to create the enviable culture that produces the results we have discussed.
It is not by accident that many of the most detrimental mistakes a manager can make are related to ignoring Pike’s three basic points. However, there is a long list of mistakes to avoid, including failing to:
Provide a purpose. Simon Sinek is known for his book, Start with Why. Having a purpose is more than a goal; it is a comprehensive understanding of why you are tackling the tasks you are assigned. Providing that "why" is a key responsibility for leaders, and you can’t have a great culture unless your people understand the whys.
Hire the people who will build and support the culture. Your culture is your people and your people are your culture. You attract the right people with the right culture, and the right people build and sustain that culture. Every hire at every level must be evaluated for their compatibility with the culture you build.
Appreciate and respect your clients. It is a fact of the free enterprise system that you need customers to make sales and generate profits. They are not a burden. Rather, they are the lifeblood and a big part of the “why” of any business. If they are not respected, the purpose has little meaning.
Having trouble with some of your clients? Read our blog on 6 Types of Difficult Clients and how to deal with them.
Avoiding the Traps
Of course, there are many other culture traps you must actively work to avoid. Today’s employees detest bureaucracy, and turnover is influenced by boredom, lack of challenge, and a host of issues you can inoculate your organization against.
Having a great corporate culture is a combination of doing the right things while avoiding traditional negatives. We’ll discuss several more of these points in more detail in coming blogs, so be sure to come back soon!