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  Impacting Your Corporate Culture

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Within Our Series 
"The Challenge of Leadership Effectiveness" 

by Diana Mora

Have you thought about your company’s corporate culture lately?  Step back and take an objective look around your workplace environment.  What do you see?

  •  Stressed-out, bitter employees?

  •  Managers hiding out in their glass offices with the doors closed?

  •  Long, boring “what’s-the-point?” meetings?

  •  Fear of change/That’s the way we’ve always done it attitude?

  •  Unmotivated, under-staffed and unhappy employees?

  •  Are they rude to each other and the customers?

  •  Does management discourage “time off”?

These examples may seem extreme but the problem is places exist where the corporate culture is so negative, so toxic, there is high turnover, high absenteeism, and many unhealthy employees. 

Corporate culture is both easy and difficult to define.  On the one hand, you can look at the company’s mission statement and/or organizational core values and try to match what you read with what is really happening.  Corporate culture is reflected in the attitude of upper management (which always filters down through the organization), and how the workers treat each other. 

Corporate culture is also expressed in the products and services of the company, and even down to dress codes and architecture and office décor.  How does the company treat training issues, personal development, benefits, etc.?  

True Leaders are always very aware of their surroundings and tune into the problems and issues of their workers.  What do you hear if you really listen?  What do you see when you really look hard?  How can you, as an effective leader, turn the negatives into the positives?  Are the problems and issues individual situations or is there a pervasive, underlying bigger problem within the company itself?  Spend a week (or more) consciously looking at your workplace; try to be as objective as possible in discerning what is really going on.  Ask a few “outside people” who visit your workplace frequently their impressions of the atmosphere of the company.   

After you have spent time digging out your true corporate culture, what can you do to impact change?

  • After your informal survey, write up your impressions and discuss the problems with your immediate supervisor/manager.

  • Form a Corporate Culture Team, made up of employees from all levels.  Empower the team to do their own surveys, either formal or informal, take suggestions and ideas from everyone, and make recommendations.

  • Perhaps the Mission Statement needs revising and/or the core values need to be more specific.

  • The Team should be able to specifically state what the ideal corporate culture should be and how to achieve those goals.

  • It is the Leader’s responsibility to monitor and change (if necessary) any and all corporate culture negativity in the workplace.


According to the book, Primal Leadership, published by Harvard Business School Press, 2002): 

            “Climate in itself does not determine performance…our analyses suggest that, overall, the climate—how people feel about working at a company—can account for 20 to 30 percent of business performance.  Getting the best out of people pays off in hard results.

            If climate drives business results, what drives climate?  Roughly 50 to 70 percent of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one person:  the leader.  More that anyone else, the boss creates the conditions that directly determine people’s ability to work well.” 

It is up to the Leaders in an organization to assess their corporate culture and to periodically check that it’s reflecting the image that the company wants to project.  Christopher Rice, in an article called Common Pitfalls in Building a High-Performance Culture,* states:

             “Culture is like a living organism that need constant feeding and grooming.  As your organization grows, recruits need to be assessed for cultural fit, new hires introduced into the culture, and employees reminded with vivid examples of the mission and core values in action.  Leaders need to communicate, model, and model even more.  If you look away, your culture will continue to grow, but now necessarily in the direction you need to ensure the high performance and high engagement you need to sustain success in your market.”


*This entire article can be viewed at

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Enrique Mora
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This page last updated on

30 July, 2011 10:15









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