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Chris LoCurto

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May 15, 2012

Inc. Magazine

Today I will be speaking for Inc. Magazine here in Nashville with Dan Heath, author of Switch. My talk is going to be about the importance of changing your culture to one that attracts champions, changes the pool you hire from, and protects an atmosphere of no gossip, backstabbing, I any other junk that tares a business apart.

Culture will happen in your business. It’s just a matter of if you will be the one to create it, or will bad culture creep its way in. You must be intentional in the process of making your culture exactly what you want.

When you’re not intentional, and bad culture makes its way in, you spend most of your time trying to fix it. Start out on the right foot by YOU being the one to build the right culture.

Question: Have you ever worked in a bad culture?

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  • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

    I HAVE worked in a bad culture – and never want to go back there!  Which is why it is easier to keep the culture you want by working on it daily – then to allow the “bad” to creep in and try to “fix” it.   BTW – just purchased “Switch” and can’t wait to read it!  

  • http://www.crystalimagesinc.com/desk-name-plate1.html custom desk name plates

    no i have did work any time in bad cultural because  i know if i will do work in bad cultural than i know it is not good for my life.

  • http://www.epreferreds.com/ preferred stocks

    I work at a place with a terrible culture. Departments are pitted against each other to make very rather compelling money. I would say The real reason is clear: there is no purposeful and repetitive explanation of the companies visions and goals.

  • http://www.selectresumes.com.au/ Resume writing

    Walmart has much better quality than the dollar store, but some things like candy or batteries, i would rather go to the dollar store for.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

    In today’s competitve world, it’s very easy to get entangled in a bad culture. It’s there everywhere. But, it takes consistent effort and hard work to grow an incredible culture.

  • http://Davidcreel.wordpress.com/ DavidCreel

    Great post Chris. I think Dave Ramsey said it best on the latest entreleadership podcast. “sanctioned incompetence brings morale down.” At my current job, we have about a 50% turnover rate. We have lost (through quitting on the spot and firing) 14 people out of 45ish in a little over 3 weeks. No sign of rehires coming either. We are never closed and last week we had 12 managers and 11 workers on the day shift. People can’t seem to figure why nothing gets done in a timely manner.

    Moses came down from Mt. Sinai (corporate) and read the commandments to us yesterday. Almost everyone had their shift rearranged. Of course, not a single worker-bee was consulted.

    Finally, no one can seem to figure out also why we aren’t making any money, we only give about an 80% discount to every customer.. Doesn’t take a math whiz or a Standford MBA to figure that one out… And we are a FOR-profit business…alledgely…

    • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

       @DavidCreel You said it – “….sanctioned incompetetence brings morale down….” – 

  • unknownjim

    Chris hit a home run out of the park on this. Bad culture drags you down and makes you feel worthless. It’s good to know I can be a leader by using influence and hopefully turn a negative culture into positive culture. Great speech Chris! 

  • cabinart

    I thought that bad culture was normal. It propelled my into my career as a self-employed artist. Before that, my longest job was 3 years, and I mean L O N G E S T.
     
    It’s just awful to love the work and customers but want to tear your hair out at the way a business is being run. I used to make lists of how the business could be more efficient and make more money, and the owner would shuffle around mumbling, “You can’t win and you can’t get ahead; always a day late and a dollar short; deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other.” No freakin’ kidding! 
     
    Ick. When I gave my notice, the owner said to every one who walked through the door, “You know anyone who wants a job? They don’t have to know anything – just be nice to people.”  Still rankles after all those years!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

      @cabinart Wow, that culture almost could be taken from my job! It sounds VERY familiar!!

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

         @Skropp  @cabinart Too bad there are so many similar experiences out there!
         

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

          @Laura Johnson @cabinart Yup. Far too many.

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

       @cabinart
       So…you shared the lists with the owner and that was their response?
      Part of my job at a previous place of employment was to come up with ways for the business to run better financially.
      I was able to fix a number of things (examples: getting rid of unnecessary services we were being billed for, stopping the use of multiple credit cards, staying on top of things so the business was no longer paying overdraft fees), but my boss was still in charge of some things (they always are, aren’t they ;) ) and refused to change any of his habits. I tried coming at changes from a positive direction, with visuals, showing how things would literally be affected…nothing worked. One of the last straws for me:  My boss telling me I was too narrow minded. Hey if being “narrow minded” means having ethics and not getting in trouble with the law, I’m all for it!
      So I TOTALLY identify :)

      • cabinart

         @Laura Johnson He might have enacted one or two things, but then gave me reasons why none of the others would work. Bottom line – he was tired, his feet hurt, and his wife was sick. 

    • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

       @cabinart It is amazing the insensitivity of some people – unbelievable! 

      • cabinart

         @LouiseThaxton Yeah, poor old guy. He died last week at age 82, and I (briefly) considered attending his funeral. Decided to stay in the studio and paint instead. Probably a good decision.

  • Matt Weidner

    I work at a place with a terrible culture. Departments are pitted against one another to make money. I would say the main cause is there is no purposeful and repetitive explanation of the companies visions and goals. Another problem is the department heads/VPs have personally guaranteed a large line of credit they can’t payoff. It feels like management as given up and lost their fire. Many of the VPs would like to retire but they can’t because of this debt.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

      @Matt Weidner I’ve heard that people will copy the good a leader does half the time, and copy the bad they do ALL the time. If the VP’s have lost their spark, you’re in trouble!! That’s a tough situation

    • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

       @Matt Weidner Good idea to purposeful repeat the vision and goals – it just doesn’t happen most of the time.  

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    I’ve commented on this subject here many, many times, but it still bears repeating.  Maybe if I keep repeating it over and over, like the definition of insanity, I’ll get a different result.  Or, maybe I’ll be able to tolerate it.
     
    The two bad seeds in my department are well documented.  One has had to take a class for her attitude.  It was the 8-hour DISC profile class, which I think EVERYONE should have to take during orientation, but in our organization, you take this class if you are in management, or if you are a problem child.
     
    She was the latter.
     
    Her attitude has not changed one iota.  In fact, it is worse now that I’m not supervising anymore.  As far as I’m concerned, she should be removed from the organization like my cancer was removed from my kidney!
     
    I was told straight from the Director of Employee Relations (the aforementioned Pontius Pilite of my organization) that bad attitudes are a personality trait, they are not grounds for write-up or terminations.
     
    This continues to bring down the rest of the department’s attitude.
    If this were Lampo Group, these two girls would be working the drive-thru at McDonald’s by now.  If they were lucky.
     
    Crush it today, Chris!  I’m sure you will, as usual!  By the way, can you give a lecture at (undisclosed large health care organization in Florida’s Gulf Coast region) someday?

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @skottydog I’m amazed at how you have tried to fight the current and lead in the right way, even though the environment and organizational culture is not in your favor.  It’s very costly to have the little divas running around causing damage without anyone putting a stop to it.  I think you can hold your head high and realize that you may go somewhere else and be a rockstar and they will still be the divas.  And about the Employee  Relations person saying personality not being ground for terminations… gimme a break!

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @lilykreitinger @skottydog Haha. Little divas, great description!

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

           @Skropp  @lilykreitinger  @skottydog
           “Little divas” totally describes people like that!!

    • cabinart

       @skottydog Find your dream, read Quitter, pursue your dream, and escape that nightmare!!  You must be remarkably strong to put up with such a terrible environment. I hope it has more reward than just a paycheck for you

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @cabinart @skottydog Quitter is a book I REALLY need to read…

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

           @Skropp  @cabinart  @skottydog
           I have it. Started the first chapter. That was a couple years ago…. I think I should probably finish it ;)

        • cabinart

           @Skropp  I don’t need my copy – shall I mail it to you?? I’d be happy to!   

      • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

         @cabinart  @skottydog AMEN, AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!

    • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

       @skottydog A bad attitude is a personality trait?????? Are you kidding me?  I have never in my life heard this – unbelievable.  That attitude needs some chemo!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

    I’ve been really fortunate to work at places with good culture. However, in every team there have been a few situations that have affected that culture.  One time there was a coworker who spent a lot of time at my desk during work hours.  I asked her to let me continue my work, and she would send me A LOT of instant messages or e-mails instead.  If I didn’t respond right away, she would go and visit others, or email or message them.  It got really out of hand and our supervisor thought it was just her personality and that we should all get along.  I felt bad because the rest of the team would gossip about her intrusions.   I had to make a tough choice which was to confront her (and I HATE doing that).   We went out for coffee and I told her how much her actions were affecting me and the rest of the team.  I asked her to keep her social interaction down so we could all be productive and we agreed to go out to lunch every once in a while (vs. brown bag at our desk, which was the standard).   It worked out well,  I stopped listening to the gossip and she is the only one from that group that I still stay in touch with.    I  think it should have been our leaders giving some guidance in that matter, not necessarily me as a peer.   What do you guys think?

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

       @lilykreitinger You handled that superbly and in rare fashion.  You brought yourself closer to her while everyone else distanced themselves.  Two different reactions to the same person with entirely different results. Great leadership, Lily!

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @JoelFortner @lilykreitinger Rare fashion is right!

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @lilykreitinger Usually, in larger corporations anyway, the standard seems to be “work it out amongst yourselves”.  If you wait for upper management to intervene, it is usually because the situation has already escalated.   
      You fixed a little problem before it became a BIG problem.  Obviously, it was handled well, as you still keep in touch with this person today.   Seems like the others were just looking for something to gossip about, which is probably why they DON’T keep in touch today.
      Nice way to handle that, Lily.

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @skottydog @lilykreitinger There is that line between allowing leadership to be lax in their job and running to them for everything, huh? I imagine the line is determined by the situation as well as the leadership style of the management

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

         @skottydog
         It’s not always in larger corporations. I worked at a smaller business where “work it out amongst yourselves” was applied to four of us. Not good. At all. :(
        Oh well, I don’t work there anymore :)

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

      @lilykreitinger Wow. Fantastic handling of the situation! Ya, should’ve been a bit more leadership I suppose, but in the absence of you stepped up and made a difference!

    • cabinart

       @lilykreitinger You are an outstanding person – I am so impressed with your wisdom and courage! Does anyone not hate confrontation??

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

         @cabinart  @lilykreitinger
         “Does anyone not hate confrontation?”
        It depends on the person/people/situation.
        For the most part, I like confrontation because I can see the benefits down the road (I’m not the let’s fight it out type, but the let’s come to an understanding type)
        There are times I have avoided confrontation. That would be when it was obvious zero headway would be made.

        • cabinart

           @Laura Johnson  @lilykreitinger I’m reminded of hearing Dr. Laura say, “Confrontation is war. How about a conversation instead?” Sure is nicer to just talk and come to an understanding. Often it means getting people to unload their weapons first (figuratively, not literally!)

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

       @lilykreitinger
       It should have been the leaders. But you handled it beautifully! And I think it was an opportunity for you to grow as a leader (don’t we always want an opportunity to grow that direction?! and you passed with flying colors :)

    • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

       @lilykreitinger My opinion is that you handled it beautifully – and with grace.  But it should have been handled by leadership because this was their problem more than yours  ( the lost hours of production she would have been causing) But when leadership is lacking, it is good to know that many times individuals with leadership qualities such as yourself , step up to the place and do the right thing.  And it looks like you were rewarded by a relationship that was not broken.  Good for you!

  • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

    I have worked in a good culture that went bad. What happened? The leader got focussed on himself, and left the rest of the team out to dry. It sucked. Just goes to show – the leadership of an organization can make and break culture.  That’s sobering. 
     
    Chris! Go knock their socks off! I’ll be praying for you man. :)

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @Aaron Nelson Yes, Go Chris (or is it SuperChris?) !!

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @lilykreitinger @Aaron Nelson …saving the world one leader at a time!

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

         @lilykreitinger
         SUPER CHRIS!! I’m imagining that picture you created, Lily… :)

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @Laura Johnson  @lilykreitinger @Aaron Nelson @Skropp  You guys rock!!!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

      @Aaron Nelson you and Chris are definitely right. A leader either sets the culture or allows it.

  • http://www.ansleyRDgroup.com/ Jason Ansley

    Yes. I have been stuck in a “bad culture” before. Thankfully God removed me from that, to another state in fact! I learned a lot in that environment, how not to lead, and ultimately the importance of culture and the wake it creates with its impact.
     
    Jason Ansley
    http://www.ansleyRDgroup.com
    http://www.NPOdev.org
    http://www.randyRCplanes.com
     
     ansleyrdgroup NPOdev randyrcplanes 

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @Jason Ansley You just described my first 6 months in management!  I spend the first half of my first year just doing things OPPOSITE of the bad managers in my past.  It worked for a while, but then I had to improve on that, not only to survive, but to thrive!

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

    Im also realizing more and more that you must be intentional in every aspect of your life if ou want to be happy. Things dont “go right” by happenstance. Whether culture, goals, jobs, relationships, or anything else, we must live on purpose or we will, sooner or later, find we’re miserable (or at least not as happy as we’d like to be…).

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @Skropp Well said sir!! I totally agree. We need to happen to our lives and our workplaces and our culture. We can’t let them happen to us!

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

         @Aaron Nelson  @Skropp  I like that, we need to happen to our lives. So true!
         

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

          @lilykreitinger @Aaron Nelson I like that phraseology too Aaron, thanks!

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

         @Aaron Nelson
         Haven’t heard it quite that way before – Like! :)

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

         @Aaron Nelson
         “A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” -Rita Mae Brown
        Found a couple years ago on the internet, so don’t know if it’s accurate on who it’s contributed to (my little disclaimer) 

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @Laura Johnson Brilliant quote though Laura! I like it right back! That’s one for the fridge! And a good post-it stapled to the forehead. (But I don’t have much room left on my forehead because of all the other useful post-it notes I’ve stapled there with things I’ve learned here. :) 

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

           @Aaron Nelson  @Laura Johnson  Consider using a Sharpie :)  less painful than staples :p

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @lilykreitinger  @Laura Johnson DOH! If had only remembered that BEFORE the stapler came out….. LOL. Hehehe

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

           @Aaron Nelson  @lilykreitinger I guess the pain that goes with a stapler might encourage remembering ;)  I’m getting this image in my head of meeting you two…Aaron with post-its stapled to his head and Lily with stuff written all over her forehead with a Sharpie…..weird stuff :)

        • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

           @Laura Johnson  @lilykreitinger Pain is weakness leaving your body. (I don’t know what freak said that – saw it in a movie. Don’t really think it’s true, but it’s funny)  It would be funny to meet like that – and then with the T-shirts “I’m with the Blog.”  Scary crew, for sure!

        • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

           @Laura Johnson  @Aaron Nelson I love that quote!  

        • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

           @Laura Johnson  @Aaron Nelson I am reminded of a book “The War of Art” where the author states that “Resistance” is the enemy – and we must press through Resistance to win the life we want – we must fight – 

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

       @Skropp Agree!  I wrote a lot last year on my blog about finding your purpose and activating it with goal setting.  It was the most fulfilling stuff I’ve written.

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @JoelFortner I know I’ve said it before on here Joel, but it is definitely frustrating look back on your life when you have just let it happen. Organization does not come out of chaos without focused effort.

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @Skropp Good point!   This reminds me of Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life.  You can’t lead well, if the other “spokes” in your life are not optimal.  It all works together.  Chris has posted on this topic, and has some great insight on it.  As usual!
       

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @skottydog Great points. I had my eyes opened to how out of balance I am by Dan Miller’s book “48 Days To The Work You Love” as well as Michael Hyatt’s podcast on “work-life balance”

    • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

       @Skropp Intentional being the key word here – right on.

  • CGreene801

    I am in a leadership position with a short-season baseball organization (38 home games, 76 game schedule). Almost all of the employees return season after season.Most of the employees only come for their shifts during the season, which is a few hours a night, and there’s not a whole lot of time to foster the organization’s culture while they’re working as there are logistical hurdles (getting the stadium ready to open the gates, prepping the picnic areas for pre-game picnics, etc.)What would be a good way to build culture with a team that only meets at most 45 times a year?I’m thinking that some team-building activities during the downtime, maybe before the season, during a road trip. Every year, our season does culminate with our post-season BBQ we have for the employees, but I just feel like we’re missing the boat on infecting our staff with a great culture that would help make our fans’ gameday experience just that much more exciting.
    I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

      @CGreene801 I think you’re on the right track from what I hear dave and Chris teach. Meet together like you said for a BBQ or game night or something. Involve the families in some of them.
      And as always, appreciation goes a long ways to build a team spirit.

    • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jonathan Henry

      @CGreene801 Find the great people and give them a podium. Do you have a video board on the field? Take time between innings to run a brief video where the great employee shares how awesome it is to participate in working the park. Make sure they (visitors and staff) know that going to a game is more than entertainment: it is an experience that will craft memories for dozens of children across,generations. Making those that shine, shine brighter, shares the light with everyone involved.

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @Jonathan Henry I LOVE that video idea! That’s great

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

      Paint the picture of why it is that you do that kind of work: the love of the game, families spending time together.  Explain that what they do makes that possible and all the details need to work together to make it happen.  Send personal thank you notes to people that go above and beyond.  Identify their preferred language of appreciation: time, encouragement, gifts… and provide opportunities to recognize them in that way.   I’m thinking even having name tags or buttons that say “I work building memories” … sounds corny, but that will give them an idea of whatever your vision is as their leader.

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

         @lilykreitinger @Skropp @Jonathan Henry @CGreene801 This is why I love my commenters!!!! All great ideas!! I would also do the downtime event. But since you meet 45 times a year, there’s a lot of opportunities to get together most of the 45 times and teach culture. It doesn’t have to be all of the culture, just pick a couple of things, teach the group, and pump them up to SERVE people. Encourage them to love on the fans 45 times a year. Even the jerks. :-)

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

    Have I? I am currently (save me!!!)! Haha. It’s amazing the way a bad culture affects you, and I don’t mean just your job performance, I mean YOU. every aspect of your life, energy level, relationships, sleep, attitude… The list goes on. But the point is you can’t afford to stay in a bad culture for any length of time.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @Skropp  I totally get it. My husband was in a VERY toxic environment a while ago and it was really a relief when they let him go. It affected every area of his life and he would come home defeated every day.  His coworkers experienced the same. Everyone I talked to that worked with him could not wait for the day to be over.  So sad!  It was so bad that his coworkers threw a party for him when he was laid off. It was like he had served his time and was getting out of prison! Crazy!   The point is he was looking to get out and they made the decision for him, which led us to other adventures and it was great.  Hang in there and look for a way out! : )

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @lilykreitinger Thanks Lily. I certainly identify with your husband! What kills me the most is the mood I’m in when I get home. I do my best not to direct it to my family but don’t always succeed. And I’m so worn out (both from the 12-14 hour day and the emotional drain) that I don’t have te energy to spend with them that I want to have

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

           @Skropp  @lilykreitinger  Yuck!  My philosophy is that if you’re sacrificing your family, your health and your integrity, it’s time to get out!  I know it’s not easy, but lots of knee-mail work wonders! I’ll be praying for you!

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

          @lilykreitinger I completely agree. I’m in the process of looking for new employment. The saddest part is the fact that the owner is a good friend of mine and I hate seeing his company going the way it is…but my family is first priority

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

           @Skropp  
           I’m so glad to see that your family is your first priority! So many people find it hard to do that healthy or right thing because friends are invovled.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

          @Laura Johnson Ya, having the boss be my friend does add another layer to it, but he’s a good guy. And I put the bug in his ear probably 6 months ago that this wasn’t my dream job and I don’t expect to be doing the same thing 5 years from now…so that’ll make a transition easier too

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

           @Skropp Always good to plant those seeds ;)

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

       @Skropp
       At a previous job I was told by someone above me (but who had no control over the issues I was dealing with) that they wanted me to stay and would hate to see me go, but my marriage relationship was more important than the money and benefits. They shared with me how their stress level at a previous job took a toll on their marriage and how much better things were for them now. I was fortunate to have this person at my past place of work because multiple times they shared with me their experiences and wisdom.

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @Laura Johnson Thank goodness for those people, eh?

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

           @Skropp  @Laura Definitely!!