Corporate Culture –
Turning Teams from Toxic to Terrific

If your management focuses solely on what employees are doing wrong, you may be working for a toxic company.

In his book, Eye of the Storm: How Mindful Leaders Can Transform Chaotic Workplaces, executive coach Ray Williams describes the characteristics of toxic workplaces, and the part that dysfunctional leaders play in creating them. As he writes in Psychology Today, toxic workplaces will manifest in the following seven ways:

1. All sticks and no carrots – Or mostly carrots for the best performers, sticks for the rest.
2. The creeping bureaucracy – Too many levels of approval and micromanagement.
3. The gigantic bottom line – Profits, beating the competition, and cost cutting are the sole focus.
4. Bullies rule the roost, at all levels.
5. Loss of the human touch, meaning people are considered to be objects or expenses rather than assets, and there is little concern for their happiness or well-being.
6. Internal competition enforced by a performance system that focuses on individual performance rather than team performance.
7. Little or no concern for work-life balance, where personal or family lives must be sacrificed for the job.

article-Phaceology-toxic-cultureHow do you correct it?

A good starting point is to make sure that all employees are keeping a finger on the pulse of the organization to make sure people are being cared for to do their best work, and that fear is being pumped out of the workplace regularly.

When toxic behaviors persist, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Conduct a culture or employee engagement survey like that offered by Olumo which reflects on the work environment and management’s performance or leadership. If they’re the problem, HR needs to step in and play a role in assessing organizational health.
  • Have HR and well-meaning managers conduct stay interviews to keep good people from leaving.
  • To weed out toxic employees, include behaviors like “respect,” “teamwork,” and “encouragement” in your performance planning and then measure them.
  • Invest in coaching for managers and staff. Adopt a system like Phaceology to measure, train, and reward great performance and overall consistent happiness at work.
  • When dealing with a toxic co-worker who is apt to turn a discussion into a he-said, she-said mud-sling, bring in a third party to document meetings to protect yourself from drama.
  • Every employee needs to learn the value of setting boundaries. Define what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t–then communicate assertively with appropriate boundaries.
  • Expose the problem by promoting a healthy culture and living out shared values to squeeze out unwanted things like gossip, bullying, sabotage, disrespect, and insubordination. The larger the group campaigning against toxic behaviors, the better they’ll be rooted out.

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6 Ways to Change a Toxic or Hostile Work Environment