Fixing the Culture Problem

I work for a great company.  No, seriously, I do.  What makes it a great company?  The people, the products, the impact on the market, innovation, etc.  I also work for a terrible company.  Again, seriously, I do.  How can I say that I work for a terrible, yet great company.  Because no company is perfect.  It is a man-made construct run by men, thus it will always be imperfect.

That being said, the issues that my company currently is facing are those of culture.  We recently went through a major crossroads, and if you ask the majority of people, it was rocky (and still is) at best.  Decisions were made in a vacuum and people were affected.  What has happened is that a majority of the people who I work with and that are on social media are like me – they relate to and repost articles like, “151 ways your company sucks,” or “should you work for a bad boss?”.  I get it, I really do.  But what I have found is that, crazily enough, the C and E level folks don’t come to us and go, “you read this article, posted ‘yeah’ about it on LinkedIn?  What should we do to make you feel better about our company?”

I have found one such article on Forbes.  A great article, by the way, by a gent named Shane Atchison who takes it from the perspective of someone looking for a job.  He gives tips to checking out the new company, and rightly so.  His article is focused on new opportunities and not those of us who have become invested, but because of this I wanted to give a few points for changing the culture within your company.

  1. Change begins with me.  How can a company be expected to change when the individuals who make up that company are not willing to change?  Analyze each response to change and ask, “am I against this change simply because it is being implemented by another person?”  If so, go back to the “me” part and see where the struggle lies.
  2. Network.  Get out of the cube/office.  Go to new areas of your building/campus and meet new people.  It is amazing how change can be created by a group rather than an individual.  Meet outside of work – coffee, drinks, softball, walking, whatever.  Know your company.
  3. Do not be intimidated by senior leadership.  They put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do.  Just don’t go overboard.  Don’t ask for their cell or setup meetings with them directly, but introduce yourself.  Go where they go.
  4. Look for changes that you have the authority to make.  Everyone has “some” authority at work.  If it is over a product or line of code or a single jot, do it better/faster/stronger (cue Jimmy Fallon).  Figure out ways to improve your life and your work and let the success speak for itself.  But be prepared to answer for the why.
  5. Faith.  Sorry folks, unless you believe in something greater than yourself and that you have higher purpose, then why strive to be better or to make your surroundings better.
  6. Ask.  It is amazing how often we don’t see change because we don’t ask for it.
  7. Study the past.  There is an old adage that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  This means not only studying historical figures and how they improved their culture/environment, but understanding what happened at your company that led to seeming cultural demise.

These are just seven things to look at.  There are a ton more, but number 8 might be “do something innovative” like adding 7 more things to this list.

Disclaimer for the haters/criticalists: this article is from my brain.  It is does not indicate that change will absolutely happen and also is at best %27.5 of the full story.  There is much more detail and many other aspects to consider.  So, before you post how bad this article sucks, please understand I am a human who is just trying to shine a tiny ray of hope into someone’s life, not solve world problems (hey, maybe that is #9 ! ).

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