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  • Writer's pictureIvan Palomino

Company Culture Starts with Your Boss

The reason why there is friction to scale up a new culture across an organization is often rooted in our human psychology - we don't easily change behaviors when we are told but when we observe them.

Company Culture starts with Your Boss PeopleKult

When employees are informed (often by their bosses) of a change of culture and they see that patterns haven't changed on the top of the pyramid. This is a trigger for keeping things as they are - in our brains it is a signal of preservation to mime behaviors from the powerful in order to survive.

A company culture can be defined as the ethos a company tries to promote into its workers and work environments. But often is a natural arrangement of tacit behaviors and attitudes that develops based on the organization dynamics of what is rewarded or penalized - beyond what is being documented as a work norm. Employees observe what is implicitly permitted and to whom to decide how to act.

The Common Tacit Red Flags at Work

Research shows that with power, humans tend to be less aware of their flaws, more tempted to play around the line of what is allowed or not, more entitled to micro-privileges that differentiate the ones in the "power club" vs. others. This is one of the reasons why it is sometimes difficult for leaders to comply naturally with a change of behaviors - it is already hard to change for the common of people but for leaders more hurdles are in their way.

The terms “positive” and “negative” corporate culture is based on the influence of the day to day operations of a company upon the wellbeing of its employees. Many red flags show when there is a negative work culture, affecting mainly:


Lack of communication or even inadequate communication, be it across teams or down from the bosses to the employees. This can hurt productivity, reduce innovation and create a less desirable working environment.


If the workforce of a company is “so busy with work” continuously, that’s a clear-cut sign of an awful company culture where employees do not have the time to recharge - cognitive load and stress increases absenteeism at work.


Abuse can take many forms; harassment is just one of them. If a work environment is cut-throat competitive and employees are incentivized to step on each other just for a promotion, this can also contribute to abusif behaviors. If having a thick skin is an unspoken but mandatory requirement, this can also be considered abuse.


While all companies do need to keep metrics (revenue, profits, share...) in mind when making decisions, the wellbeing of employees is what will make these metrics sustainable.


Some organizations expect employees to turn off their brains, churn out content about insubstantial stuff, day after day, month after month, with the employees not able to take pride in their work, or even add a personal touch to it leads to very negative work culture.

Toxic culture or in other words negative culture will have adverse effects for the organization, ranging from high employee turnover, even to loss of profitability. In order to maintain a flourishing work environment; managers need to discover the exact problem areas, understand the root cause and put measures in place to rectify it.

Organizations cannot seek to create great followers under poor leadership - Organizations cannot expect a change of culture if the old patterns are still rewarded. The reward can also be maintaining people who did not change despite a glorious past or despite of their rank of the organization

If an employee observe change at the top - the velocity of change in the organization will be drastically improved. It is not about claimed intentions, but actual actions reflecting the purpose and values of the culture-to-be.


🌟🌟 Is your company culture: people centric and inclusive Join the Simply Human Pledge (a free initiative to promote and support human centric work cultures).


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