Organisational Culture

Wish versus Reality

Their website claims that “We care about the people” and that “Delivering the best work culture is of utmost importance to us”.

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

Reading evaluations of this employer on or similar websites portrays a slightly different picture. In this case, the term slightly means that the website claim and reality do not seem to have too much in common.


An email arrives in your inbox. It is one of these “send to all” emails from the board of directors. They make a couple of announcements via email. The IT implemented the new CRM months ago is running as great as expected. Simultaneously, the organisation now prepares for the future, which means that the IT department will soon introduce a new project management software. However, the Project Management Office, a place where all projects of the organisations are coordinated and managed, will now be dissolved, and HR will do this on the side of their other tasks. The goal is to be more efficient by doing so.

To be a more modern organisation, the board also decided to ban the “suit and tie” outfit from the office. “Casual Friday is not every day” is what it says. The whole email is about ten pages long.

The case you read here is not a hypothetical one. It is a case which happened recently in an international organisation.

Distanced communication is a significant mistake. Of course, not everyone from the board level will be able to speak to every employee personally. However, you have your department and team leaders in place to do so. Still, these department and team leaders need to feel proximity to the senior-level executives to multiplicate the feeling across the organisation.

No change will be introduced because senior management decided to do so and afterwards sent out an email announcing the results.


Some may now think that they do better because you do not send out mass emails to your employees. You send out mass videos. Sorry, this is not any better. These CEO videos contain a marketing message, fully scripted, which the legal department wrote. While being as unemotional as possible, boredom or nuisance is the usual reactions when your employees see these videos. You will not be able to communicate emotions while making an unemotional statement.

Communicating empathy and proximity means that you need live events. Either online or offline. Train and coach your leaders on all levels of hierarchy to get in contact with their teams.

You expect people to be emotionally engaged with your organisation which at the same time senior-level management communicates the exact opposite.

For sure, the online meeting world came here to stay. However, life events will return, and the hybrid experience will be the most likely outcome.

“The ones from up there…”

The organisation’s culture is multiplicated in a top-down manner. Hardly ever you will see a grassroots movement turning against the board in a Corporate environment. The moment when wrongdoing from senior management must be expected and accepted is the moment in which your culture turns toxic.

People will lose trust in the organisation’s leaders. Informal networks will start to grow, which will circulate unofficial information. Rumours will spread quickly, which will weaken the employee’s trust in the organisation’s leaders even more.

In most cases, an organisation’s culture is a multiplication of the leadership behaviour that top-level management shows daily. You cannot order a better organisation’s culture. You must actively create, accompany and implement it. These actions may take years and must be accompanied by professional help from internal or external sources to succeed.

As a result, you will receive higher motivation, lower employee turnover, a better employer’s brand, lower costs for recruiting, higher productivity, and all these aspects together will directly impact the organisation’s profitability.

How important is organisation culture for you?
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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt


Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.