How to Destroy Your Business (PSST! It’s Tied to Your Culture)

As a woman checked me into my hotel in rural Wisconsin last week, I saw a sign taped behind the front desk that caught my attention:

Literally don’t do anything without checking with me. DP

After handing me my room key, I read the note aloud, cocked my head, and gave her a look that asked for some explanation.

Where’s the Respect!?

The woman’s head snapped up, and her face took on a scowl.

“Do you know how angry that note made me? I was so mad! I have been here 17 years, and I’m 63 years old. The new manager is 27. He thinks he knows everything. How dare he treat me like a child!”

She wasn’t done. The employee shared quite a few more examples about how the new manager treated her and other employees with continual disrespect.

The clerk continued, “Where is the respect, I ask you? Once I retire, I’ll be the first to laugh if this place burns to the ground!”

There’s More Than One Way to Burn Down a Business

I listened to her and validated her feelings. Then I told her I might even write about her situation, and asked if I could take a picture of the little “love note” taped behind the counter.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said nervously. Then a smile crossed her face as she offered this: “But I suppose if I were in the back room, I would have no way of knowing you were taking a picture of that note.”

She winked at me before walking back into her office. I took the picture.

If you’re a manager or business owner, you don’t likely verbally abuse your employees when customers are around. You’re probably smart enough not to leave “love notes” like DB did for his employees in Wisconsin.

But make no mistake about this:

How you treat your employees will show up in how they treat your business, your customers, and one another.

Corporate culture is a living organism that goes viral. It breathes (and sometimes seethes) inside employees, and then it spreads to customers. You need a strong, positive corporate culture to create a powerful brand identity, retain the best employees, and develop the best image from the inside-out. So ask yourself this question:

If your culture became more contagious, would your business grow or close?

Have you ever seen or heard a boss berate an employee in front of customers or other employees? I’d love to hear your story.





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