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4 Ways to Kill Your Corporate Culture

April 2, 2015 | Staffing Blog


“Culture” has become a business buzzword in recent years with companies like Google, Facebook and Zappos being lauded for their corporate culture that embraces creativity and innovation in a causal atmosphere. Tech companies add bars and foosball tables while other businesses allow dogs at work or embrace a more casual dress code. It’s all in the name of building a corporate culture where employees are happy, eager to contribute and don’t mind putting in long hours.

But there are some ways to kill the culture you’ve worked so hard to build. Could one of these culture killers be lurking in your company?

Funky for the sake of funky. You added a ping-pong table and Friday happy hour but no one’s interested – what’s up? Are your employees the kind of people who like ping-pong tables and Friday happy hour? Or are they more serious? Do you have a lot of workers with young families eager to get home on Friday rather than hang out at the workplace bar?

If your employees aren’t motivated by trendy and hip, then don’t try to force that kind of corporate culture. Instead, look at what would motivate your employees – telecommuting or closing early on Fridays during the summer? Every workplace is different so don’t try to emulate one that doesn’t truly fit just because it seems cool.

Too many walls and doors. You preach communication and collaboration, but you have a traditional office space with cubicles, individual offices and little open spaces for meetings. Now that doesn’t mean you have to go through the office with a sledgehammer. Some of your workers might need or prefer a private office for making phone calls and meeting with clients. But you can create some collaborative space.

Can you open up a conference room with comfortable chairs where workers can take a break or meet in a less formal setting? What if the break room were more “café” and less “fast-food drive-thru?” Having even just one or two comfortable, casual areas can foster conversation and brainstorming.

Poor hiring decisions. At the end of the day, culture really comes down to the people. It’s a belief system and mentality that trickles down from management and filters into every facet of the workplace. So you need to take extra care when adding people to the team. They may be completely skilled, but will they fit with your corporate culture? Will a more serious, all-business kind of person fit well in the company that has dogs running around and employees in blue jeans? A person who just doesn’t fit within your company culture won’t be happy – and neither will you when the person either doesn’t perform well or leaves.

Fear of failure. If you’re espousing the virtues of innovation and creativity, then you have to accept failure as a part of doing business. Employees won’t feel empowered to try something new if they know there will be dire consequences if it doesn’t work out. Accept failure as a part of innovation, learn from the experience and try again.