There's a fine line between fostering company culture and seeking to control members' thinking and behavior. For example, it's good to overtly promote a climate where employees understand their goals and expectations. On the other hand, it's not a good idea to enforce company zeitgeist through fear and control. If your organization is leaning toward the latter example, it's being run like a cult. Not that it needs to be said, but cults don't do good business.
Forbes contributor Chris Cancialosi has an interesting piece up on the site right now about how to keep your company from heading down the perilous road to cultdom. He defines a cult as an organization that stresses adherence to the whims of a charismatic leader, minimizes two-way communication between employers and employees, and ostracizes those who dare to question the higher-ups. The reason these organizations are bad is because this type of rigidity stifles innovation, thus endangering the company as a whole. There's also the fact that you shouldn't treat your workers in ways that make them fearful of rocking the boat. It's not good business practice and it's not good humanity.
If you've just now realized that you're working for (or running) a cult company, Cancialosi recommends a few steps to resurrect normalcy. First, you have to own the fact that things need to change. You need to introduce new talent in order to dilute the Kool-Aid and refresh company perspective. Most importantly, communication must be repaired. Develop new channels between leadership and labor so that innovation can flourish while risk-taking gets rewarded. Overall, Cancialosi says you should strive for a system "in which people are informed, engaged, and aligned around a compelling path forward."
Though, of note: if you're not in a position to enact change, it may be best to start printing résumés before dipping your thermos in the company punch bowl.
Read more at Forbes
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