When the culture of a company is good, trust exists, people take risks and support each other when they fall. When the risks work, exceptional things happen and companies stand out amongst their peers.
In cultures that do not function well, tension exists, happiness does not, and people are scared to take chances. They exists at mediocre; employees live at normal (doing only what needs to be done, and rarely anything more.) They dislike coming to work, do not feel appreciated aand feel they are doing their job when they maintain the status quo.
In most cases where companies do not function well, they have lost connection with their core values. Ask questions to find out why. Believe it or not, sometimes they just get caught up in their day to day situations, running so fast to keep up with things, they simply forget to live what they believe. These situations are relatively easy to fix. If you can help them slow down and remind them of what they believe, you will be able to help initiate ways to bring them bring those values back to their day to day operations.
If the core values no longer capture their essence of the company (i.e. Quality which used to be central to their belief system has now been replaced by a need for speed. The company now believes it has to be the innovator and they are willing to sacrifice some quality to be the first in the field to market it), you must create a new set of core values that represent what they believe now.
When a company and it’s employees try to live by conflicting values, it is like the story they tell of a bus which gets stuck in a pothole. The driver asks the passengers to get off the bus and push and is confused when after 5 minutes, there is no movement. He gets off the bus to see why and is amazed to discover 1/2 of the people went to the front and were pushing backwards, while the other 1/2 went to the back and were pushing forwards. The story is comical; but companies do this all the time. 1/2 of their energy goes in one direction while the other 1/2 goes in the other.
You must not be afraid to take a stand, to make tough decisions that need to be made. When a company and its employees share the same beliefs, there is no resistance. It is hard to change, but it is impossible to remain the same.