Your Culture Stinks and you May be to Blame

Business Man Complaining Hurts His CultureSo you’re fed up with the culture of your organization. You’ve made this much clear. Whether talking to your trusted friends within the company or your spouse and friends outside the office, you routinely complain about:

  • How nobody cares about the people
  • Backtabbing has become an art and
  • Nobody knows what it means to be excited about the products and services

Great. So what are you doing about it?

What you’re doing about it is amplifying the problem. That’s right – you are making the matter worse. You’re not helping. In fact, you are part of the problem.

What do you think you achieve by complaining? You show each person you speak to yet one more example of the growing problem. You remind them – perhaps even those who thought it was starting to get better – that the problems remain.

What if instead you chose to focus on the positive? For example, how fortunate you are to be employed at all in these trying times? Or, what if you talk about the positive attributes of your products rather than focusing only on the negative? Let’s look at two examples:

Negative Ned

Negative Ned works for a company prducing the “Mia Pet”, a competitor to the famous Chia Pet line. Ned’s frustrated because the company’s passed him over for promotion time and again. He doesn’t trust his boss and thinks the company’s lost any concern for the employees. So when his friend, Inquiring Irene asks him how things are going, Negative Ned responds:

Terrible. This company just doesn’t get it. My  boss is a jerk and our product is terrible. It’s no surprise everybody buys the Chia Pet instead of our Mia Pet – ours leaks more water and leaves little marks. You know, we just don’t seem to care about quality anymore.

Positive Paul

Positive Paul works for Mia Pet as well. He meets up with his friends, Inquiring Irene and  Negative Ned for drinks. Having missed the previous conversation, he takes an opportunity to bring Inquiring Irene up to speed on all the changes at Mia Pet:

You should see it, Irene – we’re fnally going to stick it to those Chia Pet monopolists! People always complained that Mia Pets leaked too much water and left marks, but now we have a solution. The Mia Pet Holder rests under your Mia Pet and with an optional expansion pack, can even grow new plants on it.

Impact on Results

If Negative Ned were all Irene heard, she’d not likely by the product. In fact, all the Inquiring Irene’s of the world who spoke to Negtive Neds, would not buy Mia Pets. Sales would continue to suffer. Declining revenues would further erode budgets and reduce benefits, resulting in further unihappiness by Ned and spawning more Neds.

If Positive Paul were all Irene heard, she’d likely buy the product on the spot, with the holder and new expansion pack. All the Irene’s, buying more, would bolster Mia Pet’s revenues. Increased budgets would drive further benefits and marketing. Before long, Chia Pet goes the way of the Pet Rock and Mia Pet would become the new monopoly in cheesy holiday gifts.

An oversimplification? Sure. But this is done to make a point. If you routinely complain about the negative you only make matters worse. Instead, if you authentically focus on the positive, you raise awareness of the good and inspire positive notions in others.

Question: So which are you, a Negative Ned or Positive Paul?

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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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