Why Bad Workplace Environments Can't Improve Without Changing Organizational Culture
Why Bad Workplace Environments Can’t Improve Without Changing Organizational Culture

Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: May 21, 2018

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I remember when I took my last official job as a lawyer.  I was hired into a newly created position.  As soon as I got there, I felt a very “icky” feeling in the air. People were snide to one another, meetings ran overtime, processes were as long as the 405 freeway and no one liked being at work.

I panicked those first few months, wondering what I had gotten myself into.  At one point, I ended up in the General Counsel’s office.  He admitted he had made poor senior attorney management hires and regretted them.  He said he was near retirement and was going to do nothing about it at that point in his career. It was a bad workplace environment and going to remain that way.  Changing organizational culture was the only cure.

While I felt honored to be someone the general counsel could confide in, I was mortified, terrified and horrified.  Did I mention I wanted to run out of the company and never come back?  I couldn’t concentrate on my job towards the end of my employment there and it was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning.  And this was me- I had LOVED being a lawyer because I wanted to make a difference.

How did corporate America manage to take a devoted and gung-ho lawyer and turn me into a lethargic, passive, inefficient employee?

In my previous career as a securities lawyer, I had the opportunity to work in many different work settings including the federal government, law firm and major corporations.  The one thing that was true in each environment was the people.

Put together a bunch of people with real emotions and baggage from our personal lives and what do you get?  A mess if you are not aware and pro-active.  Then you have a “bad” workplace environment.

Most assume a bad workplace environment must mean the substantive work is not “good” and thus, the company is not a good place to work in.

In my experience as a growth and change expert, organizational culture must focus on the people at a much deeper level in order to get bad workplaces environments to improve.

However, management often tell me that they don’t want to focus on the people at such a deep level- it’s too “mushy” and “fluffy” and they are not there to babysit.

Really?  A businesses’ employees are its MAIN source of growth and evolution.  Without employees to execute on strategy, process and operations, then your organization cannot evolve and grow. Your employees are the main component of culture building, period. End of story.

So, aren’t your employees worth the time and attention?  You, as leaders of the business, don’t have to do anything yourself, if that helps.  You just have to choose to see things differently and acknowledge: 1) your workplace could be better, if not already bad; 2) your employees ARE your company culture and deserve a deep dive attention and 3) you shouldn’t do it yourself because your expertise lies elsewhere and the business needs your energy put where you are the expert.

If this was helpful, please pass it on to others who would benefit.  If I can be of support, please let me know.

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