Motivation and satisfaction

Great culture – the force of losing your exceptional talent


“Great culture can add or make you lose your brightest people working for the company.”

This is the sentence I’ve heard from a presenter on a leadership forum I attended. 

The person who said this phrase presented to the auditorium results form a 2 years survey conducted in more than 20 countries of what really a great culture means and how you can recognize it.

According to the survey presenter they have checked more than 2100 companies trying to extract the essence from their statement what a really great culture is.

Another question that was interesting was:  “If companies have  great cultures why people leave them?”

According to the information collected there people often transfer real reason to a more suitable and nearer object  they  have in front of them.

This is easily  seen in the widely  distributed phrase:  “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.”

Another good question that  was raised was:  “Are people ready  to leave a great culture and company because of the behavior of one of the managers?”

 After all managers are changing way to often their position. They come and go, but something else stays even when they go -and this something is the company culture.

The presenter stated that people don’t leave managers, because managers:

1. Follow cultural specifics

2. React the way that cultural specifics allow them.

3. Manage people with all allowed techniques and approaches

4. Structure their work and level of responsiveness in line with the examples they see from the GREAL CULTURE architects (the global business leaders)

5. Demand and support the way they have seen as successful from above them

6. Don’t understand that they did something wrong if there is no suitable and sustainable feedback

7. Blame by example

8. Are interested in themselves because of the example or personal experience they have

9. Don’t stop people from learning and developing because they don’t want, but because they ensure that they are on the top of the department leader

And this presenter was deadly right about his conclusion.

None of the managers reacting in one or several of the directions described above, is personally responsible for company’s loss of exceptional talents. These signs/directions don’t show behavior out of the norms, but behavior in line with the “GREAT COMPANY CULTURE” level of allowance and supportiveness.

Because the GREAT CULTURE frame is someone else responsibility.

The real great culture is a complex understanding of what company allows, supports, promotes, neglects, discourages as a behavior. And it is company’s Senior Business Leaders responsibility to define it, support it, communicate it and develop it further with no excuses or exceptions.

GREAT CULTURE means that what is valid for the workforce is also seen in the behavior of the Senior Business leaders in the company. When differing one from each other employees from different company layers feel as there is a double understanding of the culture norms and that part of the norms described are not valid for everyone.

When this feeling pop’s up, people decrease their  believing in the values described, see themselves as betray,  stop  believing in the fair   treatment for each other in the company. That makes them think in a different and skeptical way about company values, norms and practices, reassess ethical and behavioral norms in the company and start searching for the reasons why they have joined the company. Making people feel uncertain about the culture lowers the level of understanding from GREAT to UNACCEPTABLE culture norm.

But because people can’t blame for their inconvenience the senior company leaders it is more likely for them to focus on the company representative they know best – their line manager. And poor managers have to take the responsibility to lose company’s exceptional talent in the name of the balance of the ego of the company GREAT CULTURE architects – the Senior Business Leaders.


When you hear from someone that he or she has left a company because of a manager or supervisor, don’t judge them too hard. In most cases people didn’t quit an inadequate manager, but a toxic “GREAT CULTURE”, that simply does not apply to their understandings of the world, behavior and ethics. Judging people for their action seeing only one of the perspectives can cost you losing an opportunity to join to your company exceptional talent that can help grow your business. There is a continues change in life – technologies are changing, norms are changing, channels for communication are changing etc. And in this changing environment company’s culture can’t stay the same. Forced by the changing environment a GREAT company culture can turn into a “GREAT” company culture able to force out even the most loyal and value driven individuals.


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