We will offer a contentious answer.  Yes, and no.  

Every company’s culture is different.  Providing your company’s culture is aligned with a business plan that reflects the values of the management team and equity stakeholders (of course, in a publicly traded company the equity owners are represented by the Board of Directors) then it can be said to be a good culture.

That does not mean that every person would view the same alignment as reflecting a “positive” culture.  

There are, for example, numerous professional firms with cultures that influence staff to put in 10-12 hour working days and weekends to “fit in”.  Early burnout is nearly assured, but many of these firms are highly profitable and employees are remunerated accordingly.  

If the values of the management team in such a firm match the attributes of the culture then they would be right to say that the culture was “good”.

Extrapolating the example, at the point where an analysis showed that the cost (in lost future profits) of dealing with employee burnout and continual recruitment and training outweighed the benefits of the current culture, the business plan may change to reflect the values of the management team to prioritise profitability.  And with the change in business plan, the policies that permitted and even encouraged such long hours will change too. 

To repeat: providing the culture is in alignment with the business plan, and the business plan reflects the values of the management team and equity stakeholders, then even though a culture may seem negative to some people, the management team would be right in labelling it “good”.

In our opinion, a bad company culture is one where the effect on employee behaviour runs counter to the interests and plans of the management team and equity stakeholders.

Of course, if we discover what we believe to be a serious issue in senior team culture, we will bring that forward in our recommendations for discussion.  We will not be blind to factors that can affect the company’s performance in future periods – that would undermine the net effect of our work.

But we recognise we are not engaged to provide a one-size-fits-all cultural adjustment for our clients.  It’s worth repeating: every company has a different culture, and the culture must be measured and controlled to support the achievement of the business’ goals.

Our team can deliver fresh insights and positive changes to culture where necessary.  Call us on 1300 36 20 27 to discuss the first step: identifying senior team members’ values and benchmarking your culture.

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