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How to Eliminate Toxicity from Your Company’s Culture

Leadership coach and CEO Krister Ungerboeck discusses questions employers should ask employees in order to improve company culture.

Krister Ungerboeck

Leadership Keynote Speaker & Award Winning CEO

What is your definition of “company culture?”

Company culture is the employee behaviors and traits that are encouraged and discouraged in an organization.

What do you feel is the most important thing to know about company culture?

For many organizations, it’s simply consciously knowing what it is (that includes not trying to invent aspects of culture that don’t actually exist) and writing it down. For organizations that have already an accurate written statement of their culture, the most important thing is day-to-day encouraging more of those behaviors within employees and discouraging employees who engage in behaviors that don’t align. 

How can employers better evaluate and improve their company’s culture?

I believe there are two basic questions to evaluate and improve employee engagement over time: 

  1. “I would like to be employed by this organization 12 months from today,” where answers are: strongly disagree/disagree/ neutral/agree/strongly agree
  2.  “Why? What could we start doing (or stop doing) that would change your answer?”

Using these two questions as a guide, it took us 5 years, but we built a company where greater than 99 percent of respondents agreed. In the process we won five consecutive top-workplace awards.

What do you feel to be the biggest challenges impacting employee engagement?

The behaviors of managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement.  Build better bosses at a behavioral level and you will have engaged employees. Period.  (And along the way eliminate toxic bosses from your organization.) 

In your opinion, what is the most effective way to increase employee engagement?

Build better bosses. Train leaders on the leadership behaviors that increase employee engagement.  Also train them and hold them accountable for eliminating the behaviors that kill employee engagement. 

What is the biggest challenge companies face when trying to improve employee engagement?

Controlling and bullying bosses often get results … in the short term. (I know because I was one of those bosses when I was CEO of a global tech company.) For example, Steve Jobs was known as one of the most demanding bosses of all time. But he got results.

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