Organizational Culture & Values

6 signs your corporate culture needs a reset

corporate culture

Modern employees want to work within a corporate culture they can trust.

For example, a recent survey from EY finds that 63 percent of Generation Z employees find it important to work for a company that shares their values.

When employees can’t trust their company’s values, leaders must undertake a cultural reset.

Shan Foster, co-founder and CEO of Fostering Healthy Solutions, works with leaders across the U.S. on how to create a culture that everyone can trust, one that has shared values of diversity, equality, and strong ethics.

Here are six signs that leaders need to reset their corporate culture.


1. Leaders are treated better than staff

It’s important to celebrate the success of a company’s best leaders. But a problem arises when leaders are treated better than staff, Foster says.

“When leadership has a leash that’s too long and don’t get reprimanded for anything, it creates an allure that they’re untouchable,” Foster says.

This creates a power imbalance that can often lead to workplace abuses. If employees have issues, they will slip through the cracks.

If that leader acts against company values, for example, employees aren’t likely to report it to the company. Instead, they sit in silence and feel like nothing can be done.

To fix this, Foster says that organizations must embrace accountability for everyone. This can be as simple as ensuring that every employee — no matter their tenure or rank — gets a performance review.

“Not only should leadership evaluate their subordinates, but they should get feedback from employees on how they are being managed,” Foster says. “Anything that’s egregious can be reported.”

2. Managers lack training

Experience does not equate to ability, Foster says. When organizations assume that the best managers are those with the most experience, he said that there’s far too much room for error.

“You want to make sure that everybody is trained on organizational policies,” Foster says. “A lot of leaders, unfortunately, feel that this seems like a waste of time, so they don’t do it.”

But when leaders go untrained, Foster said, they make a lot of unnecessary mistakes. They rely too much on HR for staff issues, they don’t take performance reviews seriously, and they aren’t intentional about the growth of their workforce.

The solution, Foster says, is to train everyone consistently. This means ensuring that managers and staff have the budget for training and professional development. Foster also suggests evaluating managers on their own training.

3. A lack of reporting

Without reporting, Foster says that leaders have a false sense of confidence that they have a good corporate culture. But employees often don’t report without leadership reaching out.

“You want to ensure that you’re staying connected to people,” Foster says. “Have check-ins, do surveys, and have a multitude of ways to ensure that you aren’t just guessing at how people are experiencing the workplace.”

When there’s no reporting, Foster said that employees likely don’t feel safe. In weak cultures, people fear that reporting may lead to retaliation. Ultimately, they fear losing their job.

But when reporting is encouraged by leadership, people feel safer and they work harder, Foster said. “It has a direct correlation to productivity,” Foster says. “It also breeds engagement.”

4. Leaders say ‘Diverse candidates aren’t applying’

When leaders tell Foster that diverse candidates aren’t applying, he knows that their thinking is limited.

“Diversity is not just race and gender,” Foster says. “It’s also LGBTQ+, those with disabilities, those who speak different languages, those who have different perspectives, and those who were born in other countries. If you have a hard time getting diverse candidates to apply for your position, you have to ask, ‘Why?’”

Finding new talent means building new relationships and widening the scope of the talent search. Often, companies are searching too narrowly, only using engines like LinkedIn and Indeed. Foster said that there needs to be more than just one or two places to search for new talent.

5. There’s no strategic plan or budget

If there’s no money being put into the company’s cultural and diversity initiatives, there’s no mission, according to Foster.

“When members of your workforce come up with great ideas for employee engagement or professional development, and leadership tells them that there’s no budget, that means that people aren’t important,” Foster says.

When companies plan and budget for culture and diversity activities, Foster says that companies see better profitability and more engaged workforces. Work can become a place where employees feel challenged and engaged, rather than a place they dread.

6. Managers don’t live diverse personal lives

If leaders encourage a culture of diversity but don’t have a diverse personal life, their corporate culture won’t be sustainable, according to Foster.

“You can learn some of these cultural competencies through your natural friendships and relationships, by getting outside of your norm and being exposed to different people,” Foster says.

Foster hears feedback from leaders across the country that they don’t have exposure to diverse people. But he believes that leaders, like anyone else, must fight to prevent their lives from becoming echo chambers.

“What it boils down to is a heart issue,” Foster says. “We don’t spend enough time together, so we’re constantly making the same mistakes. If we live more diverse lives outside of work, a lot of these cultural workplace issues would be easier.”


Related Resources

7 ways successful leaders can create a culture of diverse thinking

7 steps to reset corporate culture

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

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