How Much Harm Can a Bad Culture Actually Cause?

One of my favorite books is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg because the book contains so many great stories. One story that really stood out to me was the story of the culture that existed in a Rhode Island Hospital. The culture of fear that had been created, specifically in interactions between doctors and nurses, had become toxic. It was to the point where employees had become fearful to even speak up and advocate for their customers – in this case, hospital patients. The extreme example discussed in the book results in a patient being subjected to brain surgery on the wrong part of the brain!

A culture of fear to this extent may be extreme, and maybe decisions that can affect life and limb are not being made on a daily basis in your business, but maybe they are?  This example makes it crystal clear how much harm a bad culture can actually cause.

Just recently, I was reading INC Magazine’s 2019 edition of “Best Places to Work”. Obviously, culture is a big part of becoming a “best place to work”. What I found most interesting from the article was the shift in cultural focus over the last few years. Ten years ago, the focus was on free food and ping-pong. Today, the study reports the focus has shifted to employee recognition and providing a sense of purpose.

*Related – Download Dave Murray’s Presentation On World-Class Internal Culture

While that sounds great on the surface, you might be asking yourself how do we even start to provide that? How can you begin to institute a culture shift in your organization that focuses on recognition and purpose? What are some small steps that can be rolled out almost immediately to affect positive change? How do you get your leaders to understand the “why” when it comes to culture, and become bought into the fact that an improved culture helps everything – sales, service, profitability, retention, etc.

Here are some answers to the questions above. How do we even start? Start small! You need to make some small, positive changes, see the results, and then continue to build from that momentum. How can you begin a culture shift? We recommend starting with a train the leaders session. Make sure they understand how important their interactions are to build the culture.  Nothing will change if your leaders don’t know how to lead within the culture you are trying to build.

The bottom line is this: culture will happen, whether you work on it or not. Obviously, there is some really strong evidence that working on it is pretty worthwhile. 

Training Your Employees On Customer Experience Will Have Very Little Impact

Whether you train your employees on soft skills, building stronger relationships and making brilliant customer comebacks this week really won’t have any impact on your sales today.

Quote of The Week

“I can tell which companies are the pretenders and which are legit just by asking one simple question, ‘Who is in charge of your company’s customer experience?’”

–John R. DiJulius III


Do you know the rating for your company, location or department?

The DiJulius Group has created an incredibly powerful tool called the Company Service Aptitude Test. The C-SAT not only pinpoints the Service Aptitude Level of your organization but more importantly, it lets management know where the strengths and opportunities are in order to get to the next level. Take the C-SAT test to see where you and your organization ranks regarding Customer Service.

About The Author

Dave Murray

Dave is the Senior Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group and has helped dozens of companies create incredible systems that allow them to consistently deliver superior customer service. Dave’s experience has varied from leading call centers and front-line team members, to working closely with key partners and stakeholders.