The dark side of company culture

The dark side of company culture

Culture exists in every organisation, whether by design or default. That’s according to Matt Jenkins, Head of Consulting at management consultancy Footdown.

In an exclusive interview with Business Grapevine, Jenkins explained how organisational culture affects all departments, models daily practices, shapes workplace structures, defines internal or external relationships, and drives client engagement and market competitiveness.

“An increasing number of companies are seeing their culture as a valuable asset and are investing significant resources into creating a strong company culture, which leads to above average financial performance and increased competitiveness.

“At the other end of the spectrum, many companies are still fixated on growth or products rather than their underlying sustainability and culture, which is seen as a soft asset.”

So, is company culture a friend or a foe? Well, according to Jenkins, it’s less about the definition and more about the management.

“In reality, company culture is just as important as legal, technological or financial aspects. If culture is not carefully nurtured and cultivated it can become dysfunctional and toxic, leading to an early demise of the organisation.

“Company culture is a complex ecosystem that has to be constantly managed and steered in the right direction. Culture can’t be enforced or manufactured. It has to be nurtured and embraced by all employees, from the CEO down.

“In some cases, companies started with good, healthy organisational cultures that encouraged collaboration, productivity, accountability and respect but along the way the core values were eroded, warped and the culture became toxic and dysfunctional.”

There are nine definitive signs of distress that pre-empt a toxic company culture, all of which you can see in the next page…

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