Nine company culture issues that firms must address pronto

It is incredible how quickly people jump onto trends, buzzwords and in-things without really grasping the full intent and responsibility of their actions. The current corporate buzzword is ‘culture’, and many people do not fully understand its meaning and depth.

Most companies do not have a defined company culture. The vision, mission and core values are often recorded somewhere, but each employee comes in with his or her own culture.

While it is essential we promote individual expression and experience, there needs to be a collective ideology to help a company achieve its targets and objectives. For a company to successfully build a collective culture, it must have the following in place.

1.Clear vision and mission, which must be true and express the importance of where the company began and where it is today. These two very important aspects ‘speak’ for the company. Every member of staff must understand what they mean.

2. Collective understanding of core values, which means everyone must understand what each trait means and how it needs to be practiced. For example, employees cannot show integrity at work, but not at home. These fragmented identities contribute to a disruptive work space with a negative culture.

3. Consistent treatment of each employee. Tribalism is out of date, as are claims to fame due to academic qualifications, social class, gender or age. Equality is an extremely important value. It is shocking how much talent a company loses because of the poor judgement and treatment of others by those in authority.

4. No negative authority. Common courtesies, such as saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’, are critical. Treating people with dignity regardless of their position or title is a requirement that goes a long way towards achieving profit margins.

5. Manage gossip, the ugly monster that defames and assassinates others, causing toxicity. No one should be allowed to discuss another person in his or her absence. Gossip creates unhealthy cliques that turn employees against each other, affecting productivity and fuelling sabotage of work projects.

6. Time management. Not meeting deadlines, being late for meetings, not completing projects, mismanagement of forecasts, failing to diarising appointments are all time management disasters. Traffic is a miserable excuse for losses in time, which are paid for by employers. Performance and delivery are affected without a time management schedule, and this must be modelled by an organisation’s leadership.

7. Confront the grime. Stop ignoring problems, and start addressing realities. Confrontation stops bearing a negative connotation when it is considered an opportunity to resolve issues. We cannot keep burying our heads in the sand.

8. Get rid of the old and make room for the new. There is so much ‘stuff’ in offices that is no longer relevant or necessary. Open spaces allow employees to think and shift perspectives.

9. Change the way communication happens, and this includes emails, phone conversations and direct interactions. Emails need to be responded to within eight hours, and the text content must be clear and concise. Phone conversations must be warm, cordial and customer friendly. Face-to-face communication is essential, and is not to be replaced with technology.

These tips are not easy to implement, but through dedication from the top and training, they can move your company to the next level of growth.

The writer is a corporate trainer and speaker.