Workplace Culture: Avoidance is Bliss

Can’t fix culture? Avoid it! I’ve seen quite a few articles lately telling us that workplace culture can’t be fixed and now we’re to only focus on the business. The rest will fall into place. Everything will be fine. Basically, stop worrying about culture. Culture is no longer the buzzword.

That sounds easy enough. In fact, it sounds like we can all breathe a big sigh of relief. Trash those culture surveys and training’s! Let’s get back to the bottom line! Woohoo! I envision CFO’s in offices around the world simultaneously breaking into their own version of the Electric Slide to celebrate.

In all fairness, business problems are not much different from fashion. Things are trendy for a year or two, then they die off, only to be trendy again a few years later. The marketing of business problems and solutions is what makes topics like workplace culture and employee engagement nonexistent then uber-popular. After all, who doesn’t love a good buzzword? In reality, nothing is really ever “new” when it comes to business problems. It’s been the same stuff for years. It’s now about how it’s packaged and discussed (or not discussed).

Workplace Culture

To imply that culture can’t be fixed and we should all get back to focusing on the business doesn’t even make sense. Culture is part of the business. In may ways it’s the most important part. I don’t recommend ignoring it. Because, it will not go away.

You can fix culture. And, you should. Most companies never do and never, ever will. I see it all the time. The “we’re gonna change the culture” conversations are like the New Year’s resolutions for organizations. By February it’s over.

If you’re one of the few that does fix, improve and keep up a stellar culture, you’re way ahead of the game. Wouldn’t you rather be in that camp? You should simply because it gives you major labor cost advantages and a competitive edge.

I can understand why “culture can’t be fixed” is being preached more now. It is because most fail at fixing it. But, that’s not because it can’t be done. It’s because people choose not to do it. It’s not an overnight fix. It’s not a band-aid. It’s both a short and long-term process. It never stops.

Another reason folks are fed up with fixing culture is because it has to be done at the top. If the top of the company isn’t involved and doesn’t care, it’s very challenging for other managers and leaders to turn the culture ship around. It has to come from the top. People at the top have to make that choice and align themselves with effective culture-driving agents. This is historically challenging because top leaders are often not naturally behaviorally-inclined to “get” culture. They often have behavior patterns that make them very independent, competitive and fast-paced. This is great for any organization. But, you must have the awareness of this and put other people in place to drive the culture. People best suited to focus on culture are more team-focused, harmonious and super people-oriented.

Fixing or improving workplace culture does not have to be a daunting task. It’s all about aligning the right people to do it. First and foremost the top leaders have to recognize and care enough not to avoid it. Awesome company cultures pay back major dividends in major ways, well beyond just the money.

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