What is culture? The definition that most fits with the corporate matters is coming from the Cambridge English Dictionary : culture is, "the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time." But let’s consider also this statement: “Culture means cultivation of man's mind” according to B. Malinoski, while Marco Tullio Cicerone wrote about the cultivation of the soul by addressing the ”cultura animi”. 

With this in mind we can easily associate the term Culture with the corporate environment.

Company culture is represented by all those elements that make an organization unique and recognizable than any other. The culture is created every day through gestures, words, content and approach to business management, by nurturing the relationship with the outside world and the interrelationship with the people who make up the company. It evolves, transforms and enriches through the relationship with customers, with suppliers, and by meeting the challenges dictated by the market, the regulations and the technology. 

If the market is defined as the meeting point between supply and demand, the corporate culture is the meeting between the demand and supply of solutions that dictates the level of adaptability to the market and drives the identification of the suitable tools and behaviours to improve the relationship with the stakeholders, whether internal or external. 

The issues that primarily affect and shape the corporate culture are the language, and so the communication , the aptitudes, the competence, the approach to solving problems and openness of the people who represent the company. They contribute directly and indirectly to make the air we breathe in the company and that inevitably is transmitted outside wildfire. 

Let's see what are the phrases that are a symptom of a sick culture and that often represent the personnel’s response in periods of transformation. 

We do not need training - or There is no budget for training. How can we think of supporting the business, grow the market, improve outcomes and renew if not through training. The market is constantly renewing itself and so must we. 

We have always done it this way. The worst of the comments. What it prevents in principle is the possibility to evolve, to learn from your mistakes and to explore other ways to optimize results. HR and line managers should be supporting a training policy that encourages change. It will be appreciated since it is useful both professionally and personally. 

This is not part of my responsibility. This is a clear symptom of dissociation between the confidence to face new challenges, the need to contribute to the resolution of problems in a view of teamwork, the ability to align to business needs.  The best feedback in case of doubt is simply: let's talk! Why? In order to clarify all the doubts and evaluate in a mature and strategic way the aspects which are inherent in responding to new demands, considering what are the consequences of a refusal as well as the opportunities. 

I do not know what my role is. This is the exact opposite of the previous one. Not knowing what your responsibilities are is a symptom of confused, absent and so ineffective management or of a mixture of different tasks which do not stick to a specific role. This sentence brings sadness and helps to create a climate of instability and a lack of vision. The individual feels paralyzed both in terms of professional prospects that ownership of the operations. It's like hiring someone and put him temporarily in a freezer. It means that the resource is not operating in a planned way and much less strategic. It means that the resource is not even aware of what his goals are both in short that medium term. Here again it is management's responsibility to communicate clearly with the individual and leading him in a constructive way. 

I have no idea .... (that's it). Express the doubts and do not hide your shortcomings is also part of a positive culture, but it should be understood that the phrase self-standing is a sign of poor initiative. Its fine to say: I do not know, but it is best to complete the sentence following it by: I will check or asking for more clarification. How about? The phrase alone shows a closed attitude towards both the interlocutor that the issue at hand. It 'a No No. 

I do not have enough time or I have other priorities (which sounds better but not enough). Investigate with a talk about it. Let's find a solution that does not negatively impact the performance of the declarant and that is good for both parties with a view to share and optimize the solutions which means being collaborative. On the other hand, also here, the mover needs to learn how to ask for support. 

Where is he / she? What does she is doing ?... If you often hear these questions it means that there is not the culture to communicate what's going on with the organization. Share a continuous updates by publishing what the company is doing and who is handling it. Doing so it helps to maintain a high sense of belonging, each one receive and metabolize update about what the goals are, which way you are taking to achieve them and how far you are. Yes, this is company culture. 

It's all a mess! No, it is not so, or at least, not so for everyone. Say instead: there are still some aspects to clarify that I am (or Mr X is...) fixing with the management. I will keep you informed about their feedback. 

The targets are unrealistic! Sorry to say but this is really serious. This statement shows a total lack of confidence in the management and in their ability to lead the organization. It means that there are neither the tools and the resources to achieve the goals, that there is not a business plan or if there is, it has been not properly disclosed and discussed. Listen closely to this kind of feedback and properly react. 

Do you know that…. The classic phrase told by coffee break as “confidential revelations”. Does this gossip add value to your organization? Is it of interest to the least 'party? They are what I call the unproductive gossip. It seems that the other has nothing better to think about and perhaps this is precisely the point. Keep talking rather on projects that you are following if you think you have to gather support or access to key stakeholders, so that the intention and the content are noble, without damaging the reputation of a colleague, but helping to improve both the corporate culture that personal branding. 

The above may sound daunting but there is an effective method to start bringing a small but significant positive change in the culture of your company and you are more likely to do it when you are motivated: come in the office at the morning with a big smile. It’s simple, costs nothing and helps prepare everyone to better address the challenges that will give a unique and memorable flavour to the working day and that will help to renew the corporate culture. So: stay self-motivated! Motivation is contagious.


PART 1 of this 3 part series can be found here:-



  • 2015-08-18 13:30:53
  • Daniela Bensi
  • Business Transformation, Change Management, Company Culture