The Coaching Cure: Repairing Organizational Culture

Nothing will get in the way of your organization’s progress and growth faster than a toxic or dysfunctional company culture. A company’s culture is the sum total of its human relationships—it’s in the way individuals interact with each other, but it’s also located in the structure of your organization. Fixing a dysfunctional company culture cannot be accomplished by simply removing a weak link or spending a day at a retreat; it requires a consistent, concerted effort at long-term change. Furthermore, change needs to involve multiple levels of management. Even the best leaders can’t function properly if the organization’s culture prevents them from making the most of their influence. Bad corporate culture is like a cancer—it only gets worse if there is no intervention.

Bringing in an executive coach can help you understand where the disease lies and what you can do to root it out. One of the most common problems that I see in my coaching practice is with communication. Let communication between management and their employees break down just a little, and it can have a cascading effect on everyone’s performance. For example, when Chuck Grier, President and CEO of UCI, asked me to coach his management team, fostering a culture of communication was one of my main priorities.

In Chuck’s words, “You can grow a business on the technical level, but Tim has been helpful in changing the culture of our organization. We knew we had to get our people to be more open and to talk more. Tim has also helped bring in other people and resources too. For example, he’s been instrumental in introducing our team members to the people at the Kansas Leadership Center. Tim helped our team members become better communicators.”

If you’re trying to understand why your business is struggling, or why your management team isn’t meeting expectations, there’s a chance that a faulty organizational culture is to blame. Consider, for example, how direct the lines of communication are between employees and their supervisors. Are managers approachable? Do they directly solicit feedback from their employees, and are they receptive of that feedback?  Are your team leaders fostering growth, both of your bottom line and of your employees’ individual skills?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, and that’s where an executive coach can make a world of difference. An experienced executive coach will offer new insight into the problem and suggest interventions. My relationship with Chuck Grier has evolved from coaching him one on one to running workshops and coaching younger executives within the company as well. I’ve been working productively with Chuck for more than ten years now, and business has never been better.

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