Nothing good is toxic – nothing. Prolonged exposure to a toxic working culture can be harmful to both business and your mental health. If your working environment is flexible, humane, inclusive, diverse, and recognition-rich, with open workspaces, then you are already on the right track. Even so, being aware of the warning signs and being proactive in ways to implement changes before your work environment gets to that point of toxicity will help your organisation not only survive but thrive in these uncertain times.
Here are some of the warning signs to be aware of when identifying a toxic culture,
Verbal communication is minimal. When your team begins to avoid personal interaction and prefer communicating through email and text, then it is a good indication, something is amiss—not seeing the value in building relationships, meeting to discuss how to achieve goals, or ensuring that expectations are clearly set.
Gossip is tolerated, the opposite side of the coin where we have clicks and groups that exclude team members. Left unchecked this can lead to workplace bullying.
Trust needs to be earned. Experience and previous results count for nothing; everyone is micro-managed. Everything has to be checked, double-checked, and triple-checked. The list of people who need to be consulted on every decision runs into double figures, and endless processes are required to ensure consistency for every action. This leads to bottlenecking and slowing production to a standstill.
There are no consequences. Poor performance missed targets, and inappropriate behaviour or treatment of others are status quo. Anyone can get away with anything, anytime, and nobody is ever called to account for the things they have or haven’t done. This leads back to workplace bullying. Having a high staff turnover and an increase in employees taking sick days or missing team meetings can be indications that your business environment has become toxic.
Here are just some of the positive ways to turn the toxic culture around and get your organisation’s culture back to a healthier place. Our blogs also explore and expand how to implement cultural change within an organisation to help get you started.
Redefine the way things are done. If you’re serious about changing your workplace culture, take time away from the office with your team and agree to hold each other to a set of shared expectations. Ask team members to come up with a vision, a collection of behaviours, and some collaboration principles. Engaging with your team in identifying the issues and the values that you all share will bring unity to the team in creating a new and evolved culture.
Make time for creativity. Great working cultures give their staff members time to come up with new ideas. Some of these ideas may challenge the “dumb” things you currently do. They may also present new opportunities because of being on the frontline and having hands-on experience when it comes to interacting with customers and clients. Only through time and a different mindset can innovation flourish.
Remove toxic employees. Great working cultures don’t tolerate the behaviour of “brilliant jerks” who do everything in their power to spread negativity and hold the team back. Get tough with people who bring their worst selves to work every day. Offer them the opportunity to be part of what you’re creating or part ways for good.
Undertake regular cultural activities. Cultures don’t change; they evolve. Simply taking everyone offsite for a few days to redefine the culture won’t give you the change you’re looking for. Change requires continual learning, celebration, and acknowledgment of where you’re heading. It takes time to get it right, and it’s a constant process from day to day.
Workplace culture evolves, and it takes determined action and being part of the change to shift to a productive and fun environment.
If you would like to learn more about how Shoutout! can help engage your team and help create a positive work culture, book in for a live demo.