Healthy corporate culture as one in which the corporate values and behaviors are consistently lived across an organization. In general, all organizations strive to be healthy, and people want to work in a healthy corporate culture.
Values and a Healthy Corporate Culture
Corporate values represent the core beliefs you stand for collectively. They drive leadership behaviors and act as the bedrock of a high performance culture by serving as a filter for key decisions and as the means to attract, develop, engage and retain top talent.
Minimum Levels of Organizational Health
In terms of a healthy corporate culture, the combination of values and behaviors can be measured on a “good-to-bad” or “healthy-to-unhealthy” scale. And there are absolutely minimum levels of organizational health that must be attained for any company to thrive.
What are the norms of behavior and how are things accomplished day-by-day? Do employees feel energized at the thought of going to work or do they feel defeated before they even arrive? If you agree that culture drives a company, it behooves you to create a healthy corporate culture to set the foundation of high performance and growth.
Unhealthy Corporate Cultures
No matter how apparently successful and prestigious a firm, a negative workplace culture will ultimately drag it down. A toxic culture can lack integrity, respect for others, information sharing or all of the above. The end result is an environment where growth is stifled, innovation suffers and results are disappointing.
- People can be relied on to do what they say they will do, and to do what is expected of them
- They have the courage to do what is right and to hold everyone accountable, including themselves
- People understand not only what they do, but why they do it
- People are continually expanding their understanding of systems, processes, and hazards of their workplace
- People anticipate problems and are alert to unusual conditions
- They don’t assume, they verify
- People follow authorized procedures
- They don’t tolerate shortcuts
- They communicate information in a disciplined manner
- People actively back each other up
- They speak up when potential problems are recognized
- They value other’s inputs
Consider your office space
The open office spaces help employers save space and cash, but they don’t help maintain a healthy company culture. Talk to your team to find out what they think about your office space. If you think your employees aren’t ready to speak with you honestly, consider holding a meeting like, “Introverts and extroverts in the workplace.”
Care about your team
Okay, you’ve got a lot on your plate and your busy schedule drains you day by day. If you want a healthy culture for your company though, you should sincerely care about the people who are contributing to your success. Once in a while, ask your team members what’s both great and bad happening in their life. Make sure you don’t miss important events such as birthdays, childbirth, funerals, etc.
Regardless of your company size, transparency is critical. Employees who have no idea about their organization’s values, vision, mission, and earning are less likely to work productively. When you encourage transparency, your employees will become more aware of what’s going on in their organization. This will help them understand how they can improve or solve the problem.
The goal of most workplaces is to get things done. When we have a healthy workplace culture, it sets the stage for doing good work. In our opinion, culture is the most significant factor that influences work relationships, employee happiness, and productivity. We agree with the phrase attributed to Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You can have the most incredible strategy imaginable, but if you don’t have a healthy culture in which to execute your strategy, it’s just words on a page.
An unhealthy corporate culture is one that does not achieve the organization’s objectives, not to be confused with a good workplace, which achieves an employee’s objectives.
There are many different cultures that can achieve organizational objectives, but none of them can be successful without matching employees. Hard-driving cultures can be successful for ambitions employees, and fail with more socially-minded ones. Innovative companies can be successful with creative employees that high-production companies would fail with. So the most likely cause of unhealthy corporate culture is one without matching employees…either change the culture to match the employees, or replace the employees, but do not try to straddle the fence.
- People come and go and no one cares. Yes, turnover is inevitable in any organization, but if leadership doesn’t seem to care about high turnover, that’s a serious indication of an organizational health issue. In an unhealthy organizational culture, managers assume that employees will flow in and out all the time, and that most employees are replaceable or interchangeable.
- The leaders are the only ones who have offices. It’s understandable that in some instances, given the nature of the work leaders do, they need a place to have privacy, but an organizational culture where leaders are in an office, and all the employees (the heart of the organization) are all residing in the cubicle farm, that’s usually an indication of a hierarchical structure that says, we, the leaders, and more important than you, the employees. Also, a hierarchical culture has a negative impact on innovation.
- Your body tells you so. If you start to feel anxiety on Sunday afternoon because you have to go to work on Monday, or you can’t sleep at night because you are dreading going to work, or if being in the office makes you sick gives you headaches, always seem to have symptoms of a cold or an upset stomach when you are in the office, something may be unhealthy about your organization.
- The organization cares more about the timecard than they do output. In 2017, in this great world of technology, if your organization is more concerned about the time employees log in and log out instead of how much employees are actually accomplishing, that organization is toxic. Timesheets are outdated. If an organizational culture is one where employees have the freedom to perform, innovate, collaborate, and aren’t bound by so many rigid, antiquated rules, that organization will find that the MAJORITY of the employees will get the job done effectively, efficiently, and will probably give the organization more than it expected.
- Employees are treated like things and not like people. We’ve all heard, “Leave your personal life at the door when you get to the office.” Realistically, that’s not humanly possible. They are people, not robots. Personal life issues impact an employee’s ability to focus at work. A culture where the leadership lacks compassion or fails to show compassion or lacks empathy is a toxic culture. Organizations that are people-oriented tend to be stronger, better, more productive, and have happier customers.
- The organization doesn’t listen to its employees. Most organizations do some sort of organizational climate survey (if they don’t, they should). If the leadership of the organization doesn’t listen to what employees say (via the survey or whatever medium they use to get employee feedback), it sends a very clear message that the organization doesn’t listen to the employees, or care about what they have to say, thus resulting in employees becoming disengaged, desiring to leave the organization, or going into total shutdown mode.
Sustainable leadership uses an adaptive culture that involves everyone, in the change, challenge, or crisis resolution process, for a resilient and swift recovery, regardless of his/her position on the corporate ladder. An open, transparent, and adaptive culture in leadership and management processes creates room for innovation, higher accountability, responsibility, and creativity, improves efficiency, and builds competitive advantage. Another definition for building an adaptive culture concept and process in leadership and change in an organization is sharing all responsibilities regardless of the position in the hierarchy of command in the organization.
The value of building an adaptive culture of leadership and change in the 21st century is essential to organizations, especially in the increased use of information technology and its ability to transfer data at a rapid rate. If the organizational leaders do not have a recovery plan in place or address the restoration of their reputation immediately, present and future clients may choose to cease to do business with this organization.
As challenges and crises may occur in a matter of seconds in the dynamic internal and external environments globally, an open, authentic, all participating adaptive organizational culture in leadership and management would create the best opportunities for competitive advantage and sustainabilit. While forecasting disaster opportunities, threats, or risks, may allow for a disaster recovery plan of practice, the resiliency and time of recovery of organizational performance will serve as key factors that will inform management of the level of the existing adaptive leadership culture, and identify opportunities for improvement.
Integrating the building of an adaptive culture concept into one’s leadership approach of transformational leadership requires flexibility, transparency, strength, authenticity, confidence, commitment, patience, persistence, practicality, drive, focus, and a vision for growth. An open two-way communication channel, organizational unity, empathetic leadership, focusing in a direction together, and reviewing the action feedback loop during a crisis or challenge, can create competitive advantage and sustainability for an organization using transformational leadership processes in alignment with an adaptive culture.
The more quickly and efficiently an organization and its’ leaders and members can adapt to transition, challenge, and crisis, the more likely the organization will succeed in moments of competitive advantage and sustainability. Integrating an adaptive culture on leadership in an organization, during organizational transitions or transformations, eases the stress and chaos by studying scores of interactions for optimizing organizational performance. Leveraging change through leadership processes involves various theories, strategies, and transformational leadership practices in alignment with adaptive cultures within the organization internally and externally to create competitive advantage, sustainability, reduce risks or threats, and optimize organizational performance.