Let’s briefly explain the mechanism of how culture takes roots in a company: The formation of culture, usually, relates back to the owners and the first few people at its start. The people already in the company have the power to influence how the newer people work and behave. Furthermore when the company is expanding the new people that get selected are “similarly minded” people.  This is how culture is propagated and the longer it stays unchallenged the harder it becomes.

What is organizational culture? The way we do things in the company, the way we behave, the way we treat others, the way we are treated, the way we cooperate with each other, the way we form our aspirations and our vision, the way different hierarchies live their daily working lives in the company and so on.

When the right culture is not in place, it generates a lot of waste and operational efficiency suffers. Strategically and long-term, we will not succeed in implementing a strategy if a toxic or conflicting culture is installed.

The importance of culture is such that it imposes on every manager and worker an obligation not to leave a bad culture unchallenged to perpetuate. We owe it to ourselves and our organization to make our contribution in the endeavour to correct and improve it.

To do so we must recognize what is a bad, toxic culture. To help make it identifiable and visible, presented below are some of its frequently encountered elements:

Secrecy, lack of communication and feedback, the creation of barriers between those that order and those that must obey resulting to a climate of mistrust, conflict and hate; egotism enhanced by distance of geography or hierarchy; silos serving as a bulwark of the self-interest. Fear to express thanks or appreciation for jobs well done; On the contrary, mistakes are not tolerated and are met with punishment; defeatist mentality that stems any initiatives; Blame games; “not me syndrome” widespread while accountability is lacking; People guard against each other and trust neither the system nor their colleagues; the constant constraining of the self discourages spontaneity and leads to frustrated employees.

It is not meant to be an exhaustive catalogue.
Its purpose is to help us see some key opposites that would constitute some of the main elements of a good, healthy culture:

Bad Cultures

Good Cultures

 Conflicts  Debate issues constructively – feeling safe
 Defeatist or defensive spirit  Winning and approving spirit
 Superiority of position – issuing commands by   virtue of rank  Respect, guide and support others’ performance
 Closed and reserved-fearing initiatives  Open and willing to take initiatives
 Secrecy  Openness and communication
 Mistrust  Trust
 Punishing mistakes  Tolerate mistakes, learn and experiment
 Rumors  Established open communications
 Egotism  Humility
 “Not me” syndrome  Accountability and responsibility
 Silos building  Interdepartmental cooperation
 Individualism – not good team players  Cooperation – good team players
 Frustration  Zeal and enthusiasm

Does your organization have a bad culture? Regrettably many are the organizations that are suffering from it.

Culture is too important to be left unattended as it is a key foundation to both operations and strategy. A bad culture is a feeble pylon for any organization and even when the organization seems to be holding, a bad culture, with the next little change, may cause it to go down and go down in an ungainly fashion.


To those who might be further interested in management services: Panikos Sardos is the Managing Director of P&E Sardos Business Solutions Int., a management consulting firm that offers advisory services, coaching and training and can be reached by email:, telephone: +357 99640912, +357 24400884,