Company cultures evolve based on the tone set by the leaders. There are no plaques on the wall, town halls, or corporate videos about culture that can speak louder than the actions of the senior leaders. You can walk into a store or restaurant and feel the character of the store manager. That manager is likely influenced by her boss, and the line goes all the way to the top.
I was recently talking with a new CEO who wants to move a company culture away from the prior CEO’s command-and-control approach. I explained that change takes time and intention. The single highest impact on the culture will
be his own behavior; how he behaves with his direct reports, plus how he communicates during the few high profile moments that will inevitably happen … some without warning.
Steven Covey was never a very good manager, but he was good at observation and clarification of key values that impact culture and performance. His declaration to “Treat employees as you want them to treat your best customer…” is a succinct summary of the reality of culture flow from top leaders to customers.
Treating your employees well means being respectful and honest. Give the positive feedback as well as corrective feedback. Make your expectations clear and support them in doing the right thing. People who leave an organization most frequently leave because of their relationship with their direct boss. That is why managers need to be held accountable for both what they do (numbers) and how they do it (relationships).