Company Cultures

Companies always talk about “cultures” and how important they are for their employee’s – to feel welcome, to feel like they are empowered, and/or to feel like the employee is respected.

But, if upper management believes this to be true, and the employee’s want this, but mid-management doesn’t embrace it, a company remains seriously dysfunctional.

A company I recently worked with had this dysfunction – where employees were seriously disrespected by their managers, employee’s were never given any decision making capabilities, which, for new employees just starting, they quickly realized that they were “snowed” and weren’t truly “welcomed” to contribute to the success of the company.

Unfortunately, this is more common than you think.

What is common is as employee’s are promoted inside a company and they truly don’t have any managerial training, mentoring, or professional capabilities, they result to being power hungry, ruling through that power, and starting a cycle of dysfunction that only perpetuates upon itself and doesn’t ever get corrected. Compound that year upon year, where the power-hungry manager, as well as always surrounding themselves with “yes men”, and the culture quickly turns toxic.

Employee’s want to feel the sense of achievement, know that there is opportunity for advancement, and want to feel respected. Without these basic tenets of being human, employee’s quickly give up hope that they can actually affect a company in any positive way.

How can this be corrected? Unfortunately, because mid-managers are usually in place for a minimum of five years, they have built the walls and base to protect their power. That could either by putting on a different “face” to upper management, delivering on revenue goals, or just having “something” that can be used against their manager (like those dreaded pictures).

Unless upper-management wants to change the culture, and possibly affect revenue for a short time, those mid-managers need to be removed (or at least sent to extensive management courses).

How does upper-management know that there is an issue? Well, there are numerous signs – even though revenue goals are still being met. Employee turnover, employee surveys showing dissatisfaction, employees transferring to other departments/divisions, and so on.

Yes, all employees bitch and complain – it’s in their nature. But, when every one of the employees states that their is an issue (and that could be as easy as mid-managers ever receiving anything more than a “satisfactory” on management reviews, there should be some signs.

In fact, at this company i worked with, there were third-party surveys done, which showed how bad the culture was, that the mid-managers had to “explain” to upper-management that the reason that everything was so bad was not due to their inefficiencies, but because that the companies upper management weren’t communicating correctly. Unfortunately, because mid-management was still able to meet revenue goals (even though they still maintained a 30%+ employee turnover), that everything was swept under the rug (i.e. upper management looked the other way).

I’ve written about this type of culture and this type of manager many times in my career and it always amazes me that either because of who they know or delivering on only a single part of their management goals (like revenue), the rest is forgiven. Reminds me of an abusive father who beats his wife, but because he “brings home the money”, all remains the same.

Until the employee, like so many at this company, leave.


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