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Company Culture Flows Down from the Top

Company Culture Flows Down from the Top

One time I received a phone call from a recruiter asking me to consider the top HR position of a local company. The recruiter stated the top leader of the company was essentially the devil incarnate, yet they needed the HR executive to create a great workplace.  In other words, the CEO was evil but they wanted a work environment that was employee-friendly.

The recruiter became upset with me when I told her the scenario would never work.  Not with me.  Not with anyone. Not even a miracle worker could turn the culture around as long as the current CEO was in power.

Corporate culture flows down from the top.  It flows down from the CEO, not the HR department.

Have you been challenged with the task of creating a positive corporate culture?  Unless you are the CEO, it is doubtful you will have much luck changing the culture from negative to positive, bad to good, mildly unfriendly to moderately friendly or from downright hell to heaven.

The CEO must be the champion of the company’s culture.  The personality of the organization tends to follow the traits of a strong CEO.  Without his or her strong support, commitment and role modeling in action, it will likely be an uphill battle to rid the company of bad organizational habits supported by the leadership team.

Leadership author and speaker John Maxwell has very wisely stated, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” This certainly holds true for company culture.

If you want to create a high-performance work culture that attracts the best and brightest talent, you must first successfully convince your CEO to lead your corporate culture team.  And it is important to realize a Great Workplace Initiative is not a project with a definite beginning and end.  This will be a never-ending process of molding your company’s personality.  Just like individuals should always be in a continual state of learning and changing, the organizational unit should be changing as well.

When clients call and want us to help them mold their company culture, my response is, “take me to your leader.”

Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well. Clients benefit from Kevin's twenty years of people practices experience as a director of human resources, chief human resource officer of an international energy company, and business entrepreneur as a great workplace advocate showing CEO's how to increase productivity and profits.

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