Is Your Organization’s Culture Broken? Here’s 3 Steps To Fix It

A broken company culture is toxic, not just for employees' experience but for overall company performance. Learn what your employees are emotionally craving and how to fulfill their needs and build an engaged, high performance culture.

Our world is in a constant state of change and organizations are evolving to create exceptional cultures. Is yours? Or are you struggling with a broken company culture?

What Makes A Workplace Culture Exceptional?

According to Gallup, “The world’s best organizations don’t simply promise a great employee experience; they create a culture of engagement in which employees can continuously develop and thrive. Leaders at these world-class organizations treat their workplace culture as a powerful competitive differentiator. They set the tone for their desired culture, communicating consistently and holding managers accountable for team engagement and performance.”

Gallup awarded 39 organizations the prestigious Gallup Great Workplace Award for 2018. What did these organizations do that placed them at the top? They created outstanding workplace cultures. How did they do this? By discovering what their people craved, assessing their current culture and implementing a GAME plan. These three steps create alignment, foster communication, focus on strengths and leverage trust. Let’s dive in so you can have an exceptional organization.

A curated report prepared by the Center For Women and Business at Bentley University researched the impact of multi-generations on the workplace. This report helped us learn what each of these groups wants and need to perform at optimal levels. Here are their findings.

The Silent Generation

  • value recognition for their contribution
  • value incentives that help them plan for the future
  • dedicated to their employer and respect to authority

Baby Boomers

  • have a distrust of authority and value team interaction
  • prefer verbal communication and are social
  • loyal and have an affinity for hard work

Generation X

  • appreciate well-defined and measurable goals
  • prefer direct and timely feedback
  • seek a work environment that is exciting, challenging and meaningful


  • want coaches, not bosses
  • want to develop their strengths and not fix their weaknesses
  • it’s not just their job – it’s their life

Generation Z

  • money and job security are their top motivators
  • want instant feedback, want to be mentored in an environment where they can advance quickly
  • competitive and how they can advance are pivotal

Giving your team what they need to excel all comes down to safety, belonging, mattering.

  • benefits programs create safety
  • tribal rituals and celebrations create belonging
  • recognition programs like Rock Stars and High Fives create feelings of mattering
  • individual Development Plans create mattering plus
  • thoughtful, value-based onboarding processes affect a combo pack of all three

Step 2. Assess Your Culture

As discussed in a previous blog, assessing who needs what (safety, belonging, mattering) can be done by asking your team to participate in a SBM Index. They will rank the below 10 questions to assess the level of safety, belonging, mattering in your culture. Since there are 10 it’s easiest to give each answer a score of 1-10 (where 1=low and 10=high). This way you’ll get a total score that you can measure and watch improve as you strengthen your cultural programs. And the higher the score, the better the engagement. Many of our clients find a verbal scale works best. Here’s an example: 0= Disagree, 2.5 = Somewhat Disagree, 5 = Somewhat Agree, 7.5 = Agree, 10 = Consistently Agree. See what makes sense for your team.

  1. It’s safe to try new approaches, to innovate, to share my ideas at work
  2. I trust my team members and colleagues to support my and the company’s success
  3. I feel emotionally and physically safe at work—in the environment, with the tools provided, with my colleagues
  4. I am motivated by my company’s mission, vision, values
  5. I receive acknowledgment and appreciation at work
  6. When I make a mistake I am corrected with respect and the desire to help me improve
  7. I have a career development path that my leader continuously supports me in
  8. I understand the expectations of me and my performance
  9. I feel I matter to my leader and the company—I am making a difference here
  10. I would recommend a friend to work here

Be sure to have a comments section for each statement. This is where some of the greatest gold will show up!

Step 3. Create A Cultural GAME Plan From Your Results

The best way to fix a broken company culture and create an exceptional one is by implementing a GAME plan.

Growth: are you helping your team to aspire to greater knowledge and capabilities? Individual Development Plans, Leadership Lunches, Annual Learning Plans all help. Do you have them?

Appreciation: How are helping your team to feel appreciated and valued? Do you use High 5s, Rock Star, Weekly Wins, Friday Toasts?

Measurement: Are you ensuring your team performs and understands your expectations? Do you have accountability structures, feedback, performance reviews, engagement surveys?

Engagement: Are you helping to keep everyone’s hearts and minds focused on how much they love your organization? Do you have a solid Mission Vision Values, “Coffee w/CEO” program, company contests, Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic goals (goals that you show people the progress on, talk about, anchor in an activity?

A GAME plan (check out the infographic below) is essential to provide the most fulfilling work experience, which will yield the happiest and most committed, productive, loyal, long-term, constantly evolving team members. You, your team and your organization deserve to fix your broken company culture.

Christine Comaford is the best-selling author of Power Your Tribe: Create Resilient Teams in Turbulent Times and SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together, and a leadership and culture coach. She hosts Beyond The Brain, a Retreat In Mindfulness and Ancient Wisdom every October and the Conscious Leaders Tribe, which meets monthly via web meetings. Learn more at SmartTribes Institute.

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