Churn & Burn or Killer Culture (what can YOU do about it anyway?)

Your company has a culture - whether it’s intentional or not is the question

Every organization and team has a culture, one that is constantly evolving and changing.  Culture isn’t a set of “Mission Vision Values” on the wall at the front desk, it’s a set of living relationships that every individual either contributes to or detracts from every day. 

Creating a culture that inspires people to stay late, come early, pick up the phone and stay engaged is not a 3 month fix but a shift in mindset, attitudes and daily practices. 

Step 1: Identify Your Company Culture. Are you:

Churn & Burn?  Frequent yelling, no sense of responsibility and employee disengagement are signs that you’re in a churn & burn culture. It’s not that you won’t succeed it’s just going to be expensive! And unless you’re Amazon (infamous for its Churn & burn culture) it won’t last. Look, it’s expensive to hire and fire & how ever good your business idea is, you gotta get on that workplace culture if you want to last past your first iteration. 

Old Skool? Does your CEO sit in a corner office with the door closed?  Is your manager a slave to reports and quotas with no real engagement in who you are as a person? Well, you’re likely in an old-fashioned bureaucratic culture.  These are endurable and make up so many companies (54% according to INC. Magazine’s article) But you’re not going to get buy-in, extra hours or brainstorming sessions with this kind of complacency.  Start to shake things up or find millennials jumping ship in less than a year. 

Catty?  In your company do the top performers get all of the attention and resources?  Is it every man for himself, cut-throat hide your cards and steal the leads? While it may be that you can find your niche at one of these companies you’re certainly not becoming all you dreamed of being in grade school gossiping over the water cooler about Kevin’s expense account and Alex’s affair.  Time for team building, trust and accountability.  Your teams don’t really know and respect each other… YET.  These companies are eminently savable.  With some training they can level-ip and be great places to work. 


Killer?  The few, the proud… the culturally advanced. Most of us only dream of working for a company that values our input and actively engages us in decision making.  They’re out there.  Open spaces filled with people working & collaborating.  Feedback sessions that are facilitated to ensure that questions are asked in a way that elicits honest answers with the assumption of positive intent. Vulnerable transparent leadership that says what they mean for a place of honesty, respect and accountability. If you’re the leader of a company like this you know, this doesn’t happen by accident and it’s a balance to keep everything aligned and keep toxic behaviors and people at bay. 

Now you know what kind of culture you have… now what?

If you’re in a churn and burn culture you and the company may or may not be ready to make a change… it’s always worth trying to shift a toxic culture from the inside, though most will jump ship and look for a nicer place to work. Even the killer cultures need help in the person of facilitators… in many of those companies there are in-house or dedicated corporate coaches who continually share tactics for communication and trust and run group sessions to seek out problems before they fester and cause lasting damage. For most companies, it’s somewhere in between.  Bob’s a great leader, he cares about each of the team and shares his own struggles freely but Mike yells at least 3 times a day and everyone is afraid to make a wrong step. It’s in these cultures that the effort of a conscious culture shift make the biggest difference. There’s hope, employees want to stay, it’s just a shift in communication for the office as a whole and the company could become one of those amazing ones. 

What can 1 person do?  Start with you: 

Look at the way you interact with the people around you. Are you straightforward, accountable and kind?  Asking yourself a few questions before interactions can help shift the culture starting with you. 

  • Is it true? 
  • Is it kind? 
  • Is it necessary? 

These are 3 great questions to ask before you say something (at work or in any aspect of life!) If what you plan to say is not all 3 of these, save it, think about it and decide if there’s a way you can make it check these boxes otherwise, write it in your journal and let it stay there. 

For more information on culture shifts, reach out to us at