Your Company Culture Sucks, and it’s All Your Boss’s Fault

by: Robbie Abed

Have you ever looked at your boss and thought, “I like my job, but I would really like it a lot more if you weren’t around”?

You are not alone. I, too, thought the same thing. I convinced myself that I was wrong and that I needed to learn how to adapt to this new company culture.

Then my boss left on vacation for a week.

All of a sudden, the office felt lighter and more enjoyable. It was an unexplainable feeling. I was immediately happy and at peace with my job again. I showed up to work earlier than I normally did.

The coffee tasted a lot better, too. I even took down the “If you’re leaning, you’re cleaning” sign that was hanging above the kitchen sink, because it really wasn’t necessary. We’re all adults here, we can clean up after ourselves. The kitchen was the cleanest it’s ever been.

Work wasn’t work anymore. It was enjoyable. I was more creative than I have ever been, and I was starting to feel like I was actually making progress with work. I had the most productive week of my life! I put together an amazing report for to present to my boss on Monday morning and discuss the progress I made. I talked about action items, vision for the future of the company, as well as how I can help the company get there. All I needed was a little support. I was confident that together, as a team, we could make it happen!

When my boss returned, he listened to my little halftime hoo-rah and nodded in agreement while I talked, and then he asked how my TPS report was coming along. You know, that TPS report that no one reads but I spend half of my week compiling. I made the case that the TPS report was worthless, but then my boss started ranting about why I didn’t complete the TPS report. I pointed to the charts in my PowerPoint about how my time could be spent doing other things.

The result of the meeting? A TPS report that now had more fields I needed to fill in because of my presentation. And it was late, of course, so I had to stay into the night to finish it because accounting “needed” it.

I left the meeting dejected and went to the kitchen to get a Coke. That’s when I saw that the “If you’re leaning, you’re cleaning” sign was right back above the sink. I stared at the sign for a good 10 seconds and laughed. In that moment, I decided I longer wanted to work at that company.

Things weren’t going to change, and there was nothing I could do about it. The company culture was driven by my boss and that wasn’t going to change no matter how hard I tried.

I just wish that my boss would attend a company culture summit –  like the upcoming Beyond the Ping Pong Table Summit my company Technori is hosting in Chicago on Thursday –  to help him out.

I liked my job. Believe it or not, I liked my boss too. My boss was always very nice and respectful to me. But, I hated the culture of the company. Actually, I hated that there WASN’T a company culture. If someone asked me to describe the culture, I would describe it as a 9-5 job that pays the bills. Jeans Friday was about the edgiest the company was going to get.

All I needed was a company with a great culture; one that thought big and was creative with its solutions. That’s all any of us need.

Why is it so hard for companies to do this? Why is it so hard to implement a culture that the majority of the employee’s enjoy? The answer, for the most part, is that company leaders often don’t recognize culture issues in the first place. They truly believe that their company culture is right where it needs to be.

For me, the culture wasn’t a fit, so I had no choice but to leave. I’m sure there are plenty of people who made or would make the same decision as me. That begs the question: How’s your company culture? Even if it isn’t as bad as my experience above, there’s always room for improvement.

What will you do today to make it better?

About the author Robbie Abed @Technori
Robbie is the CTO For Technori & a mobile developer. He blogs regularly on his personal blog: robbieabed.com. He has given talks at Deloitte, Lean Startup Machine & Ignite Chicago to name a few. You can follow him on twitter: robbieab

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