4 Keys to Changing a Toxic Corporate Culture

Mike Girdler

Corporate culture suck? Change it Gossip, politics, poor communication, fear, lack of trust, no collaboration, blaming, and lack of accountability – all tell-tale signs of …

Corporate culture suck? Change it

Corporate CultureGossip, politics, poor communication, fear, lack of trust, no collaboration, blaming, and lack of accountability – all tell-tale signs of a poor corporate culture. Let’s face it, poor corporate culture can sap the life out of an organization like nothing else. As Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But how do you change it? Remember these 4 keys when you shift to a new and improved corporate culture:

Key # 1: Plan the shift in corporate culture – Senior management must define the change and what success looks like, and plan exactly how success will be achieved. They need to refocus on the company vision, mission and values, and link them to the types of new behaviours needed, and the old ones that need to be done away with. They need to provide tangible, real-life examples of what behaviour look like in the new culture for all levels and roles. As well, as part of the plan, they need to be prepared with training to ensure personnel are set up for success and to adopt the new culture.

Key # 2: Explain the reason for change – For example, let’s say your company makes software, and your mission statement says to be successful you will be constantly innovating. Only problem is, no one brainstorms at meetings, no one brings forth new ideas, people retreat and hide in their work areas, and there are no defined processes to support innovation. To reach corporate goals, a change is required. Senior executives need to spread the word and provide the rationale for the change. Talk to the culture change at Town Hall meetings, include it in newsletters and communications – get the word out there.  When the case is clearly outlined, people get it. They can understand the benefits to the organization, to them personally, and are more open and receptive to the new environment.

Key # 3: Top level support – Redefining corporate culture equates to change. Like any organizational change , it requires support from the top. Senior executives must understand how a poor corporate culture stands in the way of reaching goals. Part of the planning to shift corporate culture requires a current culture assessment, a definition of the new culture, and a plan to achieve the desired outcome. Most importantly, all senior personnel need to commit to it, act as role models for the new culture and champion the change for the better.

Key # 4: Reward the new culture – Do it early and often to reinforce that the change is working. Make the reward link specifically to the behavior exhibited. For example, if an improved team dynamic delivers a new idea, acknowledge and reward it. Rewards can be an acknowledgement or monetary – just reward! It keeps people motivated, interested and the new culture stays top of mind.

No matter how much you love your work, your industry, and what you do, a poor corporate culture can leave anyone lifeless. To develop a new culture, define what a successful culture is, explain the need for change, make sure senior personnel support it, and reward it.

How do you change a toxic corporate culture? Thanks for reading don’t forget to share/tweet/like our blog just underneath this paragraph. And don’t forget, we’re always here to help with your business efficiency needs.

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Michael Girdler is a vice-president, CornerStone Dynamics Inc. His blogs focus on all things project management. Throughout Mike's career, he has invested deeply into projects involving sales, marketing, training and development, continuing education, and communications environments.

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