Positive Corporate Growth Requires a Respectful Working Environment

Start With a Strong Corporate Environment to Ensure a Successful Future

Your corporate environment must be thoroughly researched and documented before proceeding with standards or future-looking plans.

Old skeletons hidden in closets will always find their way out. They become major issues when the best intentions drive an effort to improve your corporate culture or implement an efficient set of standards.

Be aware that you will most likely create tension within your organization when you start on any path to change the status quo. Many “friends of friends” or old-guard people do not want certain information or issues brought to light. This is why they buried the skeletons in the first place.

There are ways to successfully set up forward-looking standards and operating protocols without becoming the scourge of the corporation. It will take using strategy and knowing who the key players are and how to get on their radar positively.

If your organization is typical, there have been previous attempts at streamlining operations and establishing standards. The results were less than desired or very short-lived unless considerable background work and preparation occurred.

Establishing a Positive (and Profitable) Corporate Environment.

A common thread among successful businesses is a strong corporate culture with employee-focused goals. While focusing on employee support over market-driven plans can be controversial, the result is a win for everyone, from a C-suite manager to the receptionist.

People at all levels must be considered, and their input to the organization must be respected. If this does not happen, the support network built on the employee’s strengths will crumble, leading to many (sometimes well-hidden) future problems.

Inattention to the underlying issues and neglecting to step back and see the task as a whole has, in the past, been catastrophic to many organizations' longevity and market value.

Selling Your Vision of Corporate Success to Key Players

As an architect for future change, you must be a good salesman and have the strategic data necessary for your mission.

Connecting with your target audience is critical to successfully implementing your plan. The first necessary thing is to identify your different audiences and their investment stake in what you are selling.

How to Implement Change without Alienating Your Team

Your audience will be interested in different aspects of your activity based on their role in the company. Each of these roles must be considered when you approach the respective groups.

C-level management wants to know how much profit they will see. Will the ROI of your proposal be enough for their business model?

Mid-management will be more concerned with smooth daily operations that they can oversee without major drama.

The boots-on-the-ground people will want assurance that their role will be easier with the proposed changes.

The changes implemented by an organization can have long-reaching effects, which, if not taken seriously, will undermine the best plans, no matter how good the intentions are.

Finding the Snakes in the Grass – Before They Bite You

I cannot tell you how to sell your plan to create a positive working environment. If I could, I would bottle the solution and sell it.

Your biggest challenge will be getting honest answers from the people around you.

As a rule, people can be very evasive when discussing failure. Human nature is to promote successes, not failures. When failure happens, the issue is frequently seen through accusatory glasses. An example follows below:

Because John (a mid-level manager) does not fully look into the tasks required to complete a certain project, he creates back-door issues with other departments through his actions on a project.

 When an unreasonable task blindsides a team, there is often no interest on their part to go out of their way if they, or their work, are not considered.

If John uses his position in a disrespectful manner to push other departments to get his project done, he may be successful (this time). He will, however, be remembered for his actions.

People have an excellent memory of how they get treated, good or bad. By not considering others, John has created a negative impression of himself and the rest of the management team.

However, John just disregards this as part of the job and adds another skeleton to the corporate closet of distrust and un-believability.

John has done what he needed to do and is seen as successful in his role. He may even get a promotion for his efforts.

As time goes by, John retires, and Susan takes over. Susan is a very different persona from John. However, those who endured working with John will remember the environment that he created. Susan has yet to learn of the past situation and has a new project to complete. She assembles the same team, expecting no issues.

When the team brings up John’s project and the past issues with management, the response is that John is no longer there; it is in the past. The team, for their part, is only trying to avoid any issues moving forward. However, their input is downplayed. This does not sit well with the team, as they were burdened with the work and never acknowledged or considered.

Cleaning the Closet and Not Getting Cleaned Out

The example described can fit many situations in any organization. Let’s look at what John initially did and the long-term effects he disregarded.

Poor planning and not considering practical yet reasonable use of company resources is the issue’s core. The fact that John chose to insulate himself from any responsibility for things potentially failing speaks volumes about his persona.

Those around John did nothing to remedy the situation when they could to avoid future issues. This blindsides Susan, putting her in an unexpected position where she has a potential conflict with a team she hardly knows.

Susan now has to rethink her plans on how to proceed and be successful while trying to mend an old broken fence.

A New Direction is in Order

I have seen this scenario before. There are two ways that the organization can go. One will ensure future growth and success. The other will ensure that the skeletons already in the closet have more friends.

I have frequently seen the failure of the latter situation in my many years of working in the industry.

Organizations that bury their failures can only do so for so long. Soon, they are at a stopping point, and the recovery is very long and may not even happen.

 This will lead to good workers realizing that they do not matter, nor does their work. These key people, typically the long-term employees, then move on.

The remaining people who relied on the old guard are now in a lurch. Product quality and efficiency will suffer thereafter.

I have also seen that if an organization takes a step back and sees that the situation is not good, it can correct things and move forward.

If, when Susan took over for John, she had been allowed to implement a more transparent plan, reviewing lessons learned and using them as teachable examples, things would be very different. Teams will collaborate and be productive.


I have seen management teams that will not budge on previous policies or look into the harmful effects that result from them.

They want to have a “magic wand” to fix the issues which they will too often vehemently deny even exist, saying that their closets do not have any skeletons hidden in them.

Building a good rapport with all levels of an organization is critical as you will find people will open up in a friendly conversation and feel that they are being respected for what they are.

Creating a list of issues to be addressed, a living document from these conversations, is invaluable.

When tasked with fixing the gremlins in an organization, the best approach is the most encompassing. All individuals and their input must be respected.

A positive atmosphere in an organization is easy to foster; you must do a deep clean first. Lingering issues, if not dealt with, will doom you.

Final thoughts

As a final thought, I leave you with this.  Corporate success comes down to the people you work with. Some will follow quickly, some not so. Improving the corporate environment must be a living effort. It will evolve with the working environment and your co-workers. Feel free to fail, usually multiple times. You get better by learning from mistakes and not giving up when things do not go as planned.

The right plan makes positive growth and increased ROI possible, even in the most challenging situations. Just remember to address the previous failures you have experienced before trying to move forward, or, as they say, history will repeat itself.

My current employer designs Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV's) and test machines. I have worked with AutoCAD software for forty years, starting on version 1.4. Having been with my current employer for almost sixteen years and CAD manager by the necessity for at least ten.

I have seen their culture change many times in attempts to improve processes that have been met with mixed results. By learning from past failures, we have created positive change.

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