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By: Krystal Freeman on January 28th, 2014

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Problems with Your Company Culture? The Warning Signs to Watch For...

Employee Relations

As a recruiter, when speaking with candidates a few of the first few questions I ask are, “Tell me about your company culture?” and “What are you looking for in your next job opportunity?” Responses I often receive include, “an environment that allows flexibility,” “a team driven environment”, “a family atmosphere”, “ a place where I can learn and grow”, or “a place where I can make a difference and help take a company to the next level.” In listening to these statements, it provides me with the insight into a candidate’s current company culture as well as what the type of culture that they would like to work in.

However, as a leader in your company, do you take the time to listen to your employees after they have been hired?  If not, there may be a few red flags regarding your company’s culture and the potential for a lack of engagement.

Identifying Problems with Your Company Culture

Take a look around at your environment.

  • Are your employees lacking enthusiasm for work?
  • Do you get the feeling that what they do for a living is just a “job”?
  • When was the last time you truly talked with your employees?

As a leader in your company it’s important that you keep your employees engaged, challenge them. Help your employees grow professionally by offering them opportunities for advancement, training, and cross-training others within your organization. Take the time to listen to your employees. Their ideas may save you time and money. The employees are the front line for your company and in my opinion, a walking billboard.  Make sure your company billboard represents the positive opinions more frequently than the negative.

Your company’s progression is dependent upon the ability to not only grow your bottom line, but your culture as well. So, I ask you:

  • Does your company have a website?
  • Are you on social media sites (i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube)?
  • Are you still requiring applicants to submit a paper application?

These initial questions may not seem to be relevant red flag questions for company culture, but hear me out.   For applicants, if they cannot find you online via your website or a social media page then this could be a turnoff. Also, if they have to complete a paper application this can be viewed as time consuming for an applicant and a potential waste of time.  Without new employees the opportunity to bring fresh eyes and ideas becomes limited. On the other hand, for those that you are providing a service to they also want to know who you are and what you can do for them. Social media as well as your website are free advertisement for you business.

Lastly, but certainly not least, are you following your company’s mission, vision and values? Do you as the leader of your company know the mission, vision and values?  Do the employees know the mission, vision and values of the company?  Of all of the red flags this is probably the brightest!  The mission, vision, and values are the foundation for your company. They are what your company represents and stands for. It starts with you as a leader. You must reflect each of these as it will have a trickle down effect to the employees. Additionally, do what you can to make them visually known to employees, let the employees see them upon walking into the building each day, as well as those in the industry with you and you customers. Finally, remind employees of the mission, vision and values of your company and introduce it to them during the on boarding and orientation process.

As a leader in an organization it’s up to you to ensure the culture is one that is healthy. If you are unsure take a look at the environment around you in particular your employees. From there, look at your managers. Also, reach out to your HR department for sources of feedback. HR may recommend, employee engagement surveys and exit interviews. HR may also recommend performance evaluations including a 360 degree evaluation which can provide valuable feedback from team members. 360 degree evaluations not only allow the manager to evaluate the employee, but vice versa where the employee evaluates the manager.

As you go through the process of improving your organization's culture, make a list of items that you feel as though could use a little more attention. At first your list may seem a little long, but include your HR department to develop a plan of action and tackle one thing at a time. As you have met the goals of each of the items take the time to re-evaluate at 30, 60, and 90 days to be sure the changes you have put into place are effective.