How to Kill a Culture

I have witnessed an interesting transformation in a financially successful company.   A new leader came in and brought new, exciting and damaging ideas.  The previously positive culture (based on employee and customer satisfaction) eroded quickly.  I’ve compiled the seven ways this happened.


Always be the smartest person in the room.  Tell qualified people in charge of key departments that you’ll be spending a lot of time with them because you’re an “expert” in that area.  Assume you can come in and immediately master all the key aspects of their departments.  Do not give any credit to the former leaders’ perspective and experience.


Tell people they have no culture and begin force feeding values.  Ignore the age old truth that culture is caught, not taught.


Use buzzwords.  And use them a lot.  If you say something enough it must become true.  Words like “human capital”, “change agent”, “hyper-growth” and “core values” will speed up the decline.  Say things like you want to “calculate the lifetime value of an employee.”


Make assumptions.  It makes you seem smart.  For example, assume that all employees are working for the same value like “creating shareholder value”.


Treat every business and market the same.  After all you’re smarter than anybody in any business anywhere at any time.


Always change.  If something works, break it so you can be the hero when you put it back together.


Forget what you said.  Who cares if you said something one week and something opposite the next?  Just because the story changed doesn’t mean you lied.

There you have it.  Seven easy steps to de-motivate key employees while creating a reputation as a self-identifieddeveloper of people.  If someone claims they’re a leader you can find out easily if it’s true.  Did anybody from their past follow them?  If not, you’re going to witness the seven events listed above.  Good luck.

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