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Every company has a culture. Its either by design or by accident.

Every company has a culture. Its either by design or by accident. If it isn't by design and some conscious attention, it will happen by accident, just as a disease is allowed to spread. In actuality it isn't really by accident. . . it's just allowed to happen. Personally, I'd rather my culture be by design.

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An accidental culture is what grows all too often in many small businesses and even large corporate gorillas. Good intentions may start out, but as people come on to the team, poor hiring decisions are made, poor performance or abrasive personalities are allowed unchecked, mediocre or poor policy decisions are made without being corrected, customs established (sometimes by accident), crises arise, sales and profit pressures build, cliques evolve, punishments are doled out and bad habits develop. New challenges and opportunities present themselves and compromises are made in product, housekeeping or service. How the owner/management handles business as it sets into a routine begins setting the tone and establishes precedent. Precedent, compromises, poor standards and poor policies become re-enacted and tolerated time and again, until the business has evolved into a very poor company culture which is virtually impossible to turn around without a major turnover of the employees who have become a part of the problem. The healthy seedlings that are the grass seed of a lawn turn into weeds over a period of years!

In my experience, most company cultures that happen by accident are toxic and often deadly to the business over a period of years. Its a lot like having a lawn. You put the right healthy grass seed into your lawn and you water and fertilize it with TLC and it responds. When a weed or weeds begin to pop up, you react with weed killer or you physically pull the weed out. Everything goes along fine until you begin getting lazy. You stop fertilizing or watering your lawn when you should. You neglect weeds here and there and they begin affecting the healthy grass around them. And months or years down the road depending on your level of neglect, things being to deteriorate. Nothing real noticeable at first, but all of a sudden one day you take a close look and you've got a lawn of clover, weeds and maybe even some bare spots.

Whoever said a rotten apple spoils the whole barrel probably had employees at one time and allowed a mistake to fester. They learned that a rotten apple doesn't have to spoil the whole barrel if the rotten apple is removed or dealt with.

A good culture that happens by design isn't necessarily a sophisticated organization and it doesn't require an HR department or special consultants. In fact, some of the largest companies with huge HR departments have some of the worst corporate cultures out there. These companies become filled very slowly with increasingly compromised standards and managers who cover their rears while they become people users themselves who are out for no one but themselves. But a good or great company culture does require attention and a plan or mission as to what management or ownership envisions, and what they want and what they do not want. It just doesn't work by accident. They require awareness and some discipline. You must know what you believe and value?You must live by principals that you believe in and have established for everyone to follow and understand. Principals must come first over any policies that may threaten to derail your good intentions. Principals are what you must live by. Policies are what get you into trouble with your customers and sometimes with the employees who matter to you most. You need to know what you want your businesses reputation and legacy to be. How do you want your company to be perceived by it's employees, customers, and community? Even a small business can build customer loyalty, employee loyalty and word of mouth sales through it's deeds and treatment of others.

Let your commitment to those values that are important to you, drive your business dealings and decisions. Be consistent with your values and make them part of your small business. Make sure that your employees know and understand your values and those of your business and demand nothing less from them. After all, it is YOUR business!

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Posted in Business Post Date 03/04/2018


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