How to Fix a Poor Company Culture

poor company culture

A company’s culture can make or break the enterprise. The perception of your brand and business is everything – without a good reputation, few will want to work for you and nobody will want to buy from you. When companies come to us for help with their high turnover or recruitment problems, the first thing we address is culture.

When businesses have underinvested in culture for years, (in both time and money) the consequences can be disastrous. A poor company culture and company value is the equivalent of an un-oiled machine – it can’t function properly and may one day break down completely. So how do you know if you’ve got culture problems? Here are the main symptoms of poor company culture:

So when you think you have a recruitment problem think again, it’s probably a culture problem.

One of the biggest misconceptions about culture is that it only applies to large corporations. Company culture is critical for start-ups and SMEs all the way through to international organisations. Here are some top tips for fixing a poor culture.

1. Re-write company values

Values and mission statements can change over time as the business evolves, so it’s worth evaluating them from time to time. Involve your staff in refreshing the values. Don’t create values on behalf of the staff or they will never buy into them. In most cases the people breaching the values are the management so let’s remove any hypocrisy from the company.

2. Be honest about mistakes

Staff and customers alike will prefer to work with a company which is humble and honest, and open about past failings. Admit you have a culture problem and then address it. Once you have a dedicated plan to turn the company around tell people why and tell them about the journey that you are going to take them on. Staff respond well when management put their hands up and admit they got it wrong. We’ve seen companies with 60% staff turnover turning things around with this honest approach. Get everyone on the bus and keep communication upbeat and constant to boost engagement.

3. Replace what and who doesn’t fit

Once you’ve established a brand new winning culture, you need to make sure that every person currently in the company fits within it. It’s also time to address organisational tools and strategies which don’t fully complement the culture. Update technologies or bring in people to management level who are the right fit for the culture. Just because your Head of Sales is the best seller in the company, if they treat their staff poorly they have to go. Breach your own values and your staff will tear them up and put then where they belong – in the bin.

What about Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture is one of those buzz words that seems to enter the language by osmosis. Who knows when it was first coined or what we called it beforehand?

To me corporate culture is what defines a business and makes us who we are. It’s what makes us tick; everything from what we do on work nights out to how we handle work-place bullying. Our shared core values, our ethics and how we behave contribute to our organisational culture. It’s what we believe in and what we think is important.

Corporate culture is about how we treat our customers, the priority we put on deadlines, if quality matters to us and whether people want to bring us repeat business.

Whether our operation is a coffee shop or a multinational conglomerate our business culture defines us. It’s how we appear to the outside world – our image and how we present ourselves to strangers. It might be a funky website or a high profile beardy boss who likes hot air ballooning and wants us all to go on holiday to outer space.

Corporate culture is driven from the top – created by strong leaders who make their mark in the business community. If they are the face of our business, they represent us and project an image we should be comfortable with.

For me that’s about being open, friendly and approachable. If your public face is aloof and forbidding, then who’s going to want to do business with you?

You can’t leave corporate culture at reception when you leave the office each night. As an ambassador for your business, you’re rarely off duty in public.

A company’s culture determines the experience your staff and clients have working with you. Is your work-place a happy place where you might hear laughter or a sweat shop where grim-faced inmates watch the clock like prisoners doing time?

Culture takes years to build and just minutes to destroy.

It is reflected in the recruitment ads we use, in our tweets and on our blogs. It’s branding, image and public relations and good working relationships all rolled into one. Companies very rarely stop to think what they want their culture to look like.  But our work culture is what keeps staff on board or what makes them desperate to leave. Buzz word or jargon – corporate culture matters.

Great cultures don’t happen by chance.  You need a clear strategy or plan.

Rebuilding a poor company culture isn’t easy – but it is possible with expert help. Get in touch with our culture experts today: