People talk about how hard it is to change a corporation’s culture, but I have started to think that they are wrong, in part. I think it’s easy to change corporate culture if one wants to make it worse.
Let us imagine a newly appointed CEO, who is really intent on screwing up the culture. Where would he start?
- Complain about everything
If I were that CEO, I would start by complaining to anyone who will listen about anything that I think needs to change. If I were skillful, I would make sure that no-one could see what I was doing.
I would complain about things that can’t change, like things in the past, or taxes. I would make sure that I pointed the finger at other people, blaming them for anything that didn’t go right.
I would conceal how much I enjoy complaining, and pretend that I really wanted things to change.
- Listen to Complainers
I would also encourage others to complain to me. They would be able to commiserate as much as they want, and I would listen and add my two cents worth. I know they would be blaming others, and I would agree with them all.
I would promote the people who are the really big complainers, and support them in passing on responsibility to others. I would have no problem as they justify their poor performance.
After work, I’d support long sessions over drinks while we all spend some more time wishing that things are different.
- Break Promises
I’d make public promises and simply never bring them up again if they are never met. It would be a case of selective amnesia.
- Communicates Infrequently and Irrelevantly
I would rarely speak to groups of employees. I would also never encourage a Q&A and use a script wherever possible. I’d avoid speaking about the issues that people care about the most, unless I have really good news.
- Never Let Them See you Sweat
I’d be sure to communicate confidence and capability at ALL times. No matter what uncertainties or doubts I may have, I’d never show them, and learn to hide my true feelings (the better to build trust in my leadership.)
To be continued…