What to do if corporate speak doesn’t fit the corporate culture?

We’ve all heard business leaders say, “This is the best place to work because our leaders are visionary and will help drive our company into the future” or “We strive to promote inclusivity and diversity in our workplace, making us a top.” -making employers while creating value for all”, or “Our innovative leaders are among the best you will find in the industry, they show empathy and compassion for all employees while being passionate about our values ​​and mission “.

But what is your reaction when you read these types of statements for your organization or institution? Do you immediately feel inspired because you recognize these qualities in your company? Or do you see the words as corporate language meant to flatter and impress without carrying much weight?

In my time at college over the past 16 years, I have found very few academic institutions that have a corporate culture that matches corporate language or the words written and published by their leaders. This is especially true for the for-profit (and not-for-profit) online schools. When it comes to enrollment and retention numbers, there’s often one primary concern, and it’s not company culture. Why else would an institution decide to put profits ahead of employees and fire high-performing employees, especially those who are willing to work hard?

I understand that this is the “world we live in now” and there are “no guarantees in life” and more importantly “employment is at will”. Still, I find it amazing when leaders brag about how valuable their organization or institution is and then allow the core culture of the company to degenerate into a place no one really enjoys working and stays for financial reasons. This then leads to the question, what does a person do when they are in a position working for a company where the culture does not match the corporate language? Or should you do something when this is detected?

Guided tour of Puffery Online

Where to find most leadership statements about the work environment of an organization or institution online. Most often, this type of wording is used in PR statements and social media posts. When self-posted by the leaders of the organization or institution, it is a form of puffery intended to help improve their sense of status, self-esteem, and position within the industry. It’s also a reminder to you, as someone in your position, of what you’ve accomplished and how valuable you are, in case you ever forget.

As you begin your career now, you may find this level of puffery inspiring to think about what you could accomplish in your career. You may not see the disconnect between the words and actual culture, and perhaps there isn’t currently one. If the words fit your organization and how it works, trust me, this is a company you will want to make a career of over time. I am fortunate to now work part-time for an academic institution that is a certified B corporation, which further illustrates their commitment to the values ​​they promote. However, it is rare to find an institution whose culture lives up to the words of its leaders. Most leadership difficulties will be personal in nature and unrelated to the current needs of employees.

Caring (and not caring) about employees.

Central to the question of how to align (or not align) company language with an organization’s or institution’s culture is how much the company cares (or doesn’t care) about its employees. If you really want to know how much your company cares about its employees or not, find your company leaders on social media. Firstly, if you can’t find them on social media, this could be your first interesting clue. Next, once you’ve identified your leaders, take a week or two and really pay attention to what they post. Are they invested in their people, or are their posts just vague and proclaiming their virtues and the virtues of their leaders?

Here are some examples: Are your leaders honest about downturns? Will your executives address laying off employees over the holiday season? Do your managers address poor working conditions when there are known issues that have existed for years and the company has a bad reputation? In other words, what your leaders post about will tell you very clearly what they are most concerned about, and it won’t take long to establish that. All of the world’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives will never make up for: #1) a workplace culture that allows managers to poison their employees, #2) employees who are forced to work 80-hour weeks as employees, # 3) employees living in fear of their managers and #4) employees being fired in retaliation for reporting poor management.

What to do when you find yourself in a bad work culture

Let’s be clear: an employer will always believe they have the upper hand in an employment situation, and for the most part they will. Employment is optional in most states. When you report a manager, the manager is always believed more than an employee, even when there is evidence. That means you need to go beyond learned helplessness and take charge of your career. I understand the economy is challenging and jobs are scarce for many careers. But what you can do is take action right now. If you work in a culture that is anything but positive, now is the time to develop a different way forward. You have to think beyond the present because you never know when you will be the next victim. This will always be a possibility when working in a negative environment.

If your leaders promote values ​​that are consistent with your current work culture, and you have the support of your manager, you should feel fairly confident about your job and your future. But if there is a mismatch between company language and company culture, you should keep your eyes peeled and pay attention. I learned the hard way to trust an employer, especially one I started a journey with many years ago and then waited nine years to work for. I should have seen the signs beforehand, and all I can do now is what I do best, which is teach others. The organization or institution may be the place you want it to be, but when leadership isn’t focused on the needs of its employees, you can feel distressed, discouraged, disappointed, and eventually displaced. Don’t let this happen to you. Be aware of the culture and environment you are in and be confident that you are in control of your career.