Small Business’s #1 Culture Killer

I have heard more than once from smaller business owners (10 to 50 staff) that they don’t think culture is as important for their business as it is for companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Tesla, etc.

I think it’s more likely that they just don’t understand what a positive culture can do for them compared to the willy-nilly culture they’ve allowed to sprout up in their business. A strong, positive culture provides a happier and more pleasant work environment for the employees and increased productivity follows. Who wouldn’t want that?

Culture killers that’s who.

It’s possible that these small business owners who eschew culture have run into small businesses’ #1 culture killer. This would make any small business owner give up on developing a strong, positive culture.

This article will identify the #1 culture killer.

Anyone who is familiar with a positive culture in a business knows that it’s important. Over my life, I’ve worked with a lot of different companies that had cultures—both good and bad. And I’ve read a lot of material with opinions from CEOs, HR people, culture companies, authors, and blog writers, expressing why they think culture is important.

If you read this kind of material, the authors usually get to a point where they start talking about the importance of “core values” and how you should try to figure out what your core values are. Then they start suggesting ways of figuring out what those values are. However, there are two things most (but not all) of these articles skip right over or assume you already know. And you know what happens if you assume.

The two things are the What and Why of core values.

WHAT: Most of the articles never bother to define what core values actually are. They don’t give you the exact dictionary definition. So, let’s do that now.

Core: of central importance; basic; fundamental.

Values: principles or standards of behavior; qualities used as a method to attain an end or goal; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

So, core values are basic standards of behavior. They are qualities (traits) that can be used to attain an end or goal. This makes values critical for any business. Small or large.

Now for WHY: The why part is important in a large company but for a small business, it can mean the difference between success or failure.

In my article, What Are The Right Values For Your Company?, I define right as in accordance with what is good, proper, or just. This definition of “right” gives us a word in the definition that is vitally important in the creation of a company’s culture. What’s the word?


Accordance means agreement. Nothing is more critical in creating a strong, positive culture than agreement. Disagreement sows disharmony. Agreement creates harmony. When you find a principle or behavior that nearly everyone agrees upon then business (and life) is a dream.

And this is where a strong, positive culture becomes more important in a small business than in a large business. I say “nearly everyone agrees upon” in the last sentence above to single out the small business culture killer.


Anyone who has surfed the Internet in the last 20 years knows what a troll is. But here’s the definition anyway: a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord.

The anonymity of the Internet is the only thing that gives a troll some courage. Otherwise, they’re cowards. In a company, trolls sow disagreement. Of course, anyone can have a bad day and be disagreeable, but trolls are consistently disagreeable.

Now, if trolls were as easy to identify as a troll in a Harry Potter movie, there would be no problem. You’d fire them, and the staff discord would dissipate and then vanish. But since trolls are cowards, when in public, they find ways of hiding their presence.

Why do they act the way they do? Who knows and who cares? They were probably born that way. They are bad for businesses of any size but in a small business, they will cause the most unrest.

If you have 300 employees and 2 of them are trolls, the group-think of the other employees will overwhelm them. The trolls will have only a minor influence if any. But if you have only 20 employees and 2 of them are trolls, there will be a much greater impact.

Trolls are antigeniuses and the #1 culture killer in a small business. They may even bring on the demise of your business. So, you need some method of detection.

Trolls in a small business are hard to identify because they are more careful with their discordant communication. Their disagreement is less straightforward. Instead, it comes in the form of snide put-downs of a company’s principles or ideas and the like. They will give backhanded compliments and say they are only kidding.

These trolls are the reason small businesses need to have strong and agreed-upon standards of behavior. Such behavior will create a harmonious culture and can protect a small business from its #1 culture killer. Because it will shove them out of the shadows and into the light.

This is why our Genius Culture Courses are so successful at boosting a company’s culture. The 24 Characteristics of Geniuses are 24 basic standards of behavior (qualities) that everyone can agree upon. And developing these genius traits makes the trolls more visible to the other employees.

To be able to operate on a genius level is desirable personal growth for your employees which will improve their lives at work and at home. Operating like a genius makes work and life easier. Everyone wants to operate on a genius level.

Well, nearly everyone. Trolls don’t.

The fact that a small percentage of employees don’t want to have genius abilities is a plus point and a barometer. The 24 genius traits can be used to identify the good employees from the tiny fraction who are trolls. The trolls will be a very small percentage of employees who don’t want to develop any genius characteristics.

That’s good news for you. Their resistance to genius development will identify them.

Executives and employees use these genius traits to get things done, so genius traits improve productivity. In our experience, when a company’s executives and employees begin our Genius Culture Courses, the trolls tend to leave quietly as they can see the jig is up.

Honesty is genius trait #5. Trolls are having none of that.

And with the trolls gone, life in the workplace becomes less chaotic and a little more fun. Honest people enjoy working with honest people. Geniuses love working with other geniuses. Our genius development programs boost your company’s culture and make the workplace a happier place to be.

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