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You can find a treasure trove of blog posts about creating a healthy corporate culture. They all make it sound so easy. Most of these snack sized bites of wisdom cite Google or Zappos as paragons of virtue.¬†Too bad we can’t all be Tony Hsieh.

I’ve had the pleasure of working for a variety of screwed up organizations. After deep reflection, I’ve come up with hallmarks of less than healthy corporate cultures. Ask yourself, ‘Is this our company?’

  1. Your cafeteria staff recently opened an illicit tuck shop that sells employees Xanax and Qualudes.
  2. Because of a robust amount of workplace violence, you’ve been forced to spend last quarter’s profits on a metal detector.
  3. Your clients always request off site meetings because they’re scared shitless of your offices.
  4. You’ve recently hired the ghost of Ken Lay as a consultant.
  5. Employees mistrust your HR department enough to have dubbed them “the Stasi.”
  6. You think “turnover” is something grandma bakes on weekends.
  7. Your CEO is friends with more tin pot dictators than you can count on one hand.

Anything to add?

3 Comments

  • Krista says:

    My goodness, Jackson! I can’t imagine how you weathered through those companies–at least you survived to tell the tale.

    I am big on organizational culture and organizational communications, so I agree with you that of the many blog posts and academic articles out there, the gleaming examples are held so high that they seem out of reach to the average company. The important thing about a healthy corporate culture is that it takes time and effort to cultivate and maintain. That means upper management and the company leadership have to do more than espouse a few taglines and put posters with catch phrases on the wall.

    The true test of a good corporate culture is how well it carries over when key leadership leave the company– if the employees and other stakeholders already have a firm grasp of the culture and can carry on the torch, then it’s already been successful.

  • Chip Cruze says:

    I too am a believer in the bottom line power of open communication and the positive impact of good corporate culture. It’s not what you can give, like Google and Zappos, that engages employees. It’s how they feel about their work and how they are treated that creates engagement. Google and Zappos have the added benefit of ridiculous success and they pass some of that along to their employees.

    All companies can do that to a certain degree.

    It’s the energized feeling of going to work that gets companies the discretionary effort associated with engagement, and open communication and transparency are at the heart of that – they create trust and keep workers connected to their company.


    Chip Cruze
    http://twitter.com/#!/cruze24
    http://724communication.blogspot.com/
    http://paper.li/cruze24/1323984766

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