Your great idea vs. your crappy company culture

When you told me the idea for your company two years ago, I thought you were onto something. You’d identified a fast-growing market, and had a simple and elegant tech solution to deliver them products that they wanted. You knew how to charm investors, board members, and partners. You were uniquely positioned to bring together the right team to make this work.

Wondering how things are going for you, I stalked your company on Glassdoor. A quarter of your employees approve of you, and less than that would recommend your company to their friends. Ouch! What went wrong? Well, from the comments it’s clear that:

1. You expected everyone to work hard, but nobody knew what you were up to

As the face of the company, you were always out speaking with the media or investors, or attending events. It is possible you were very busy. You might even have been busy in the right way. However, nobody knew that. All they knew was they never saw you. It was demoralizing for the staff to miss dinner with their families and not have you there cheering them on.

2. You threw people under the bus

Each release that failed had to be someone’s fault, right? Seeing coworkers depart each time something didn’t go right created a culture of fear.

3. You burned people out

You were so successful at creating an around-the-clock work culture, that literally marriages fell apart and people went to the hospital. Oh, and the company sports team lost to forfeit because it could never make it to the games.

4. The only culture you built was a drinking culture

It’s not a coincidence that so many people complained about everyone not being on the same page. If the only time someone has to check in with people cross-department happens to be when they’re hammered, the product will probably come out a little hammered, too.

5. You were over-confident in your ability to predict

A/B testing and other tried-and-true ways to test the market trump your instinct, every time.

6. You let cliques develop by playing favorites

Some of your reviews sound like reading the IMDB for Mean Girls.

7. You lost sight of your good idea

You let too many side projects and partnership opportunities take focus from your core. Yes, it’s exciting that these name brand companies want to do business with you. However, when you are this early stage, you especially have to remember that you can only do one thing well.

8. You thought it would be easier

Everyone can sense your frustration that you’re not yet the next Jack Ma. His company took him 15 years to build. Yet other people spend 15 years trying to build a company, only to have it tank. Nothing is every a sure thing, and nothing is ever fair. At least make the journey an enjoyable and educational one for the people who have rallied behind you.

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