C-Suite Network

How to Know if a Company Has a Positive Culture . . . or a Negative One

When you visit a company with a poor corporate culture, tension permeates every level. You will see grim faces, and you will likely notice many offices with closed doors. You may feel uncomfortable, without knowing why. The reason you may feel uncomfortable is because everyone who works there is uncomfortable and disconnected.

And when you visit a company with a positive culture, you will know that too. Before you even enter the door, you will feel a positive energy coming from employees in the lobby or the elevator. The receptionist and people waiting in the lobby seem happy to be there. And when you go through the door and your meeting starts, things become even more energized and positive.

Please note that even if you are attending meetings remotely at the company, you will experience similar things, only on a smaller scale. But positivity can always be felt, provided it is an integral part of company culture.

Here are some key indicators that can alert you to whether a company has cultivated a culture of positivity.

Organizations with positive company cultures often:

  • Have a high level of ethics
  • Are committed to community, the environment, and other like values (i.e., a sustainability mindset)
  • Enjoy an atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie
  • Have a shared sense of community
  • Encourage creativity and thrive on innovation
  • Promote risk-taking
  • Are customer-focused
  • Keep employees’ families in mind and promote a positive work/life balance
  • Foster a positive approach and sense of fun
  • Provide generous benefits
  • Encourage employees’ personal and professional development
  • Embrace continuous learning
  • Create opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Have strong and shared core values
  • Promote technological innovation
  • Are fiscally realistic

Walk into a company with a positive culture and you will see happy, relaxed people working hard and without tension. You’ll hear people who are sharing ideas, consulting each other, and laughing. There is a sense of openness, and you will feel relaxed and welcome.

Organizations with negative company cultures often:

  • Maintain false communication where everyone “weighs in,” yet few feel heard and results are delayed
  • Neglect collaboration
  • Ignore unhealthy and, in some cases, illegal behavior such as sexism, male dominance, racism, intolerance, emotional and physical abuse
  • Disregard disruptive internal competition and sniping
  • Suffer from minimal employee loyalty
  • Lose time and money to low productivity and high turnover
  • Have unnecessary hierarchies
  • Lack a healthy life/work balance
  • Tend to be rigid and continue to do things “the way we’ve always done them”

This article is adapted from my new book Ingaging Leadership Meets the Younger Generation. 


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