Guest Post: 7 Ways to Turn Around a Culture

Culture in an organization is real. It isn’t some random, made-up term by consultants like me looking to get more contracts. Every organization, no matter the size or the amount of revenue, has a company culture.

A culture is simply the personality of the company. It determines how employees act, how motivated and engaged they are, how they contribute to teams, how they solve problems, how they produce results and ultimately how they serve clients.

It has been said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. If the culture is toxic, you will throw that strategy right up. Don’t expect positive results from a negative culture. Positive results come from positive cultures that are focused on growth. I call this a Development Culture.

If your organization’s results are poor, I suggest that your first look in the mirror. Look at yourself and your people. What kind of environment has been created? What is the climate of your organization? If you want to turnaround your results, you must first turnaround your culture.

Here are seven ways to turnaround a culture:

Take time to clarify your values. A company without clearly defined values really lacks an identity. Values let your customers know who you are, but more importantly, they let your people know who you are as a company and who they need to be. If you don’t have a set of values, create them immediately with the help of your people. Check out The Dwyer Group’s unique values as an example.

Invest in Human Resources. I am all for saving time with abbreviations. But now that so many people just call Human Resources HR it seems that the human side of it has gone away. Let’s not forget that Human comes first. Yes the resources and systems part is important, but it means nothing without people. Remember that your people are your most important resource.

Focus on the development of all of your people. If your organization is struggling, often the solutions are already in the office. The solutions are with the people you already hired. They are good people, and with a little development they could be GREAT. Every single employee deserves to be invested in. This investment will pay off with a greater return than any other investment you could make. And when I say ALL of your people I mean YOU, your managers, directors, executives, entry-level staff all the way to the lowest level of employee because everyone matters and everyone can be a part of your culture turnaround. If your people don’t want to grow, they need to go!

Find people who are passionate about and committed to the Vision/Mission/Purpose of the organization. First, you have to have these statements. If you don’t, spend some times putting them together and get your people involved. These statements should set the tone for your culture. Your vision is WHERE you are going. The mission is HOW you will get there. The purpose is WHY you are going. Create these statements. Be sure they are 100 percent clear. Communicate them to your people. And of course stay true to them.

Create teams of two. Collaboration leads to results. Many organizations talk about the importance of working in teams, but I believe the organization is responsible for putting together effective teams of two. This is where two people with different strengths and styles come together to multiply results. Results in business come from multiplication. One person can only add, but when you add another person you become a multiplier where 1+1 no longer equals 2. It equals 3.

Focused on results. Toxic cultures often come from a lack of focus on results. Most leaders believe they have this focus, yet they actually are focused on activity. This is where the idea of micromanaging came from. Micromanagement doesn’t exist when you focus on results. Stop worrying about every little thing your people are doing. Of course you need to hold them accountable, but do so with a focus on their results and the organization’s results will improve.

Stop breaking the 11th. This one probably should be first since many of the people that need to read this have already stopped reading because their “culture is great!” The 11th Commandment is THOU SHALT NOT KID THYSELF. Just because you buy your employees lunch every week doesn’t mean you have a positive culture. Have a bunch of parties for your people? Still doesn’t lead to a positive culture. Typically the companies with the most toxic cultures are the ones who always talk about how great their culture is. If your people aren’t given the opportunity to grow then your culture needs work. If your results are stagnant, then again, it’s your culture. There is no such thing as a perfect culture. You must work on improving it every single day.

These seven thoughts can help turn around your culture, or even just improve an already positive one. If you focus on these seven things and actually implement them into your organization, your people will be more engaged. Productivity will increase. Retention will go up because you actually give people the chance to grow. Why would they leave?

What about the bottom line? That will increase too, and it will no longer literally be on the bottom. Your organization will become top of the line because the bottom line is that culture is real. Its impact, whether positive or negative, is major. It’s not just another buzzword. It’s what matters most.

I wrote more about this in my book The Turnaround, which you can download here free.


Billy Moyer is a speaker, under-30 author and co-founder of SOS Leadership, and international leadership development resource center he started at just 21. Billy went through his first goal setting program at the age of 4 and spoke professionally to his first group at 7. He writes a regular blog about Being the Boss of Your Life at

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