Toxic work culture is defined as any work that is not conducive to employee well-being, productivity, or advancement. Conflict, hostile interpersonal relationships, and unethical behavior characterize a toxic culture.
Aspects of Toxic Work Culture that define and cause it
Workplace ostracism is the feeling of being singled out or disregarded by your coworkers. It doesn’t have to be a true case of your coworkers excluding you; it could just be your sense of their doing so.
For example, team members may go out for drinks but don’t invite you to join them. Is it because you’ve been ostracized, or because you’ve stated that you prefer to go straight home after work, so they believe they’re being considerate by not inviting you? However, in a situation like this, even genuine, targeted ostracism can be difficult to detect. After all, if you say something like “my coworkers are ostracizing me,” they can explain they didn’t mean to hurt you “that way.”
Signs that your workplace might be toxic
- Poor leadership and management
When a boss exhibits poor leadership abilities, such as shutting down, humiliating, or firing anyone who talks out of turn, the workplace becomes extremely toxic. Fear and intimidation are the lifeblood of this type of workplace. The worst aspect is that people are often willing to put others ahead of themselves in order to stay on the boss’s good side.
This kind of leadership adds to a toxic workplace and models and supports others’ “poor” behaviors. In other words, if your boss uses threatening language to get things done, it shouldn’t be surprising if your team leaders and members do the same.
- Trust is hard to gain
A successful organization is built on the foundation of trust. However, trust is viewed as something that must be gained in a toxic workplace rather than given. Regardless of a person’s previous experience or performance, managers must check, double-check, and triple-check everything. Employees shouldn’t have to fight an uphill battle to gain a manager’s trust. It’s crucial to realize that clinging to control too tightly will lead to its loss. For a good reason, micromanagement is an employee’s worst fear.
- Excessive absenteeism and high employee turnover
The most pressing concern for every company should be when its most talented and dedicated employees decide to leave. Excessive absenteeism and excessive staff turnover are the most obvious signs of a hazardous work environment. People have the right to seek new or alternative work possibilities, of course. However, if your company hires employees all year long only to have them depart after a few months, it’s time to take a step back and figure out what’s happening.
When the office becomes a downward spiral, it’s usually due to a lack of advancement chances, insufficient training, low interest, and poor management. The way you treat your employees, the benefits you provide them, and the environment in which they work all impact their productivity and retention.
- Harassment and gossip are tolerated
It’s ok to make acquaintances at work; individuals naturally gravitate toward those they share interests with. However, these buddy groups turn into “cliques,” full of gossip, tension, blackmail, and judgment when it comes to toxic work cultures.
- Fear of failure/resistance to taking risks
Companies are becoming increasingly connected to rapid iteration, failing fast, and learning swiftly in a world that relies on an ever-increasing rate of innovation. Only organizations that are willing to make mistakes may achieve these kinds of behaviors.
People in toxic cultures, where they are criticized and punished for making mistakes, will do precisely what you would expect: they will shut down and toe the company line in order to avoid causing any disruptions or attracting negative attention from management.
- There is a failure of communication
People become agitated in toxic situations. Many people may begin to hoard knowledge from others in order to protect themselves and their authority. When you look at happy, engaged, and productive teams, you’ll notice that they all have one thing in common: they operate in a healthy, supportive environment. On the other hand, a toxic work culture might generate not only major challenges for your staff but also major ones for your company.
Ways to fix a Toxic Workplace Culture
There are various reasons why your team can always be at odds, so you’ll need to figure out what’s creating the problem before you can fix it. For instance, you might discover that the main source of conflict is your team’s inability to agree on what to accomplish and how to do it.
- Spend some time observing and interacting with your team to determine when, how, and why conflict emerges; after you’ve identified the cause of the conflict, you can choose the best method to resolve it and make your team culture less toxic.
- Setting clear expectations, defining workflow processes, and ensuring that all team members are clear on who is responsible for what at the start of a project can help to settle the disagreement in this scenario.
- If two employees have a severe personality clash that is affecting their coworkers, you might assign them to separate projects, reducing the amount of time they need to work together and the influence their dispute has on the rest of the team.
- The more time you spend with your team, the more effectively you’ll be able to identify the source of the clash and manage it.
Toxic workplace cultures are unfortunately more widespread than we’d like to admit. Business speed, unrelenting competition, rapid technology innovation, and other complications continue to pressure leaders and teams to adapt and reinvent themselves to remain relevant. Many executives find themselves in over their heads, and their attitudes and habits begin to infect their organizations with dysfunction.
What is the Essence of a Healthy Workplace Culture?
Culture is frequently what distinguishes high-performing companies from their competitors. Decision-making processes, employee behavior, and how your people interact with one another are all influenced by workplace culture.
Culture can be compared to the roots of a tree or the glue that holds everything together. It emphasizes the development of a sense of belonging, as well as a sense of shared purpose and meaning. Shared beliefs, goals, and expectations can form the basis of a culture. On a physical level, it includes everything from your working space to your dress code to the technologies you utilize.
Toxic work cultures can result from a variety of factors, and they are typically the result of a combination of poor leadership and individuals who perpetuate the culture. It all starts with those at the very top.
Leaders must demonstrate respect, Integrity, Authenticity, Appreciation, Empathy, and Trust. Toxicity in the workplace is expensive. Toxicity will cause your best employees to leave because they will be unable to see their advancement in your company.
While various circumstances can generate toxic cultures, they are frequently generated by a mix of bad leadership and culture-perpetuating behaviors. Toxicity has a heavy price tag. Therefore it’s vital to handle these warning signals as soon as you notice them.
Make sure you have a solid plan in place to prevent these behaviors and that everyone in the office follows it. You want to strive to develop a shared term that supports the change and allows you to track changes in workplace culture.