Let’s get real about workplace culture. Yours (probably) sucks.

Shelley SmithBlog, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Predictive Index


I’m frustrated.

I continue reading articles, going to SHRM events, listening to speakers and even giving talks myself on workplace culture, and NOTHING CHANGES.

Workplace culture is more than just a buzzword. It takes action to get it fixed, but I’m just hearing a lot of complaining.

Yeah, when I give a talk, I see a lot of heads shaking. People agree they should do something, but then that’s the end of it.

What’s that about? Are people afraid for their jobs? Afraid for a “no” to their ideas? Maybe they aren’t really “all in”? Can’t make a business case? Don’t really care?

I don’t believe that. I think we all would love to go to work and be happy. Be valued, be seen, be heard, always be “all in” and fully engaged.

So, are you ready for my questions?

  • Why are you focused on turnover when you haven’t fixed retention?
  • Why are you spending more on marketing than retention?
  • Why are you building sales strategies before you build retention strategies?
  • Why are you jumping into attraction before you conquer retention?
  • Why are you giving up so easily?
  • Why are you allowing your worse team member to service your customers?
  • Why are you allowing others to dictate your time?
  • Why aren’t you focusing on what you know are the right actions?
  • Why are you so easily distracted?
  • What is distracting you?
  • Why is it distracting you?
  • What takes most of your time?
  • Is that where you want to spend your time?
  • If not, what is stopping you from changing?
  • Is it real or are they excuses?
  • Are you truly engaged?
  • How transparent are you with your team? Your supervisor?
  • Do your own actions align with your vision?
  • What did you do today to turn the tide?
  • What did you do today to reinforce the culture you desire and value?
  • Are you tracking your returns? Who told you that you can’t track everything? Says who?
  • What impact would you make if the decisions were all up to you?
  • Have you made a list of objections to move forward and removed the barriers to get to a “yes”?
  • When is the last time you went against a norm?
  • What is the last thing new you learned?
  • What is the last thing you taught or shared with your mentee or direct report?
  • What is the last thing you did that made you uncomfortable?
  • When is the last time you started a trend?
  • When is the last time you brought a solution to a problem you saw?
  • When is the last time you proactively scheduled your actions and strategies, announced them so you could be held accountable, then followed up to see how you were measuring up?
  • When is the last time you confirmed that your goals were in line with the other teams’ and divisions’ goals – AND that they aligned with the written mission, vision, value statements?
  • When is the last time you polled your team for a 360 on yourself?
  • When is the last time you gave feedback to a team member that had them talking more than you?
  • When is the last time a direct report told you they disagreed with you, providing positive conflict that yielded new perspectives and higher returns?
  • What impact or legacy have you created?
  • How long does it take something new to get approved from your department? From other departments? Why?
  • What three words describe your culture? Are they the same as the descriptors from your teammates, the other departments, the owner, the board, what’s written in your mission, vision and value statements?
  • When was the last time a job opening was filled by an internal employee referral?
  • What is the code of your culture? Is it written? Can all recite it? Do your daily actions and those of your teammates exhibit that code?
  • What do you do to go beyond code to reinforce this culture and make it even stronger to withstand market changes, competitive landscape, federal regulations, recruiters calling your talent, natural disasters, or a strong leader’s departure from retirement?
  • When you look at your resume and your list of strengths, can you readily give example after example to illustrate those strengths? Do those strengths circle around people, company culture impact, development of people, lists of others you are mentoring, promotions?



I must be honest. I hear more people complaining about their crappy culture than people bragging about their awesome culture. Why is that?

We all agree culture is created by the team. If the team says the culture sucks, then change it.

Are you a part of the solution or the problem? Do you really know the problem? The root causes? Have you offered solutions? Viable solutions? Have you stated facts or feelings? Have you created the business case and shown what happens if you do nothing?

Have you shown your boss that the risk is greater to do nothing vs. trying something? If not, why not? Have you dug deep enough into yourself, the team and the organization? Have you asked for outside unbiased opinions, options, solutions?

If these questions make you feel uncomfortable, good.

I invite you to reach out, work with me and my team. We help identify the gaps, the hits, the misses and put plans into action. We don’t talk – we help you take full measures for movement – long lasting movement.

Yes, culture matters. It begins and ends with culture. Culture is your people. People build the success of your organization if you allow them, embrace them, expect them, and support them daily.


Shelley D. Smith, Premier Rapport, Inc.

For more about myself and Premier Rapport, Inc. services, please contact me directly at Shelley@PremierRapport.com or www.ShelleyDSmith.com or www.PremierRapport.com or at (757) 897-8644.