Creating a Bad Culture pt 2


Here is a continuation of the list of things I would do to create a really bad corporate culture, if I were the CEO.

  1. Create a Culture of Fear
    I would fire people at will and without warning, showing people who is in charge. I’d do my best to humiliate others wherever possible so that even the smallest challenges to my leadership are quashed. The “Art of War” would be my friend.
  2. Make it Clear Personal Money is Paramount
    I would casually mention in conversation that my main priority is my retirement, and how I plan to fund it. People would hear from me they they should be doing the same, if they know what is good for them.
  3. Blame the Customer
    I’d make the message plain — if customers don’t want to do business with us, then they should go elsewhere, as it is their “right.” They’d need to know they are wrong for asking more than we are prepared to give them.
  4. Focus on the Short Term
    I would waste no time on developing fancy vision statements and the like. After all, no-one can predict what will happen with much accuracy in the future. Instead, I’d gear people to short-term results and meeting the goals that will make me look good to the board. My job would be to motivate people using money and personal gain wherever possible, forcing them to compete with each other
  5. Keep Around Non-Performers
    While I would fire at will, I’d make sure to keep around some employees who are mediocre – after all, we can’t ALL be stars, can we? I’d move them from job to job, to keep them and everyone else happy in the short term. Making employees happy and comfortable on a day-to-day basis, without any sense of sacrifice, would be critical to getting them to like me.

It’s interesting, but I was surprised when I made this list how easy it was to create. Changing culture is easy to do badly, or inadvertently. My clients are often surprised at the degree
of fallout they experience when they do something dumb (i.e. against their self interests.)

It is much harder to do everything right, and unfortunately, building a great culture requires a leadership performance that is not perfect, but sets the limit of the change by the weakest area visible to others.

For example, a manager might be a good leader in most respects, but a bad listener. Guess which characteristic will have the greatest impact?

Managers and executives need to be working on themselves all the time, as the bar is constantly being raised by those around them. Success only breeds higher expectations and greater challenges.