How To Fix A Toxic Work Culture
How do we fix our toxic company culture is the most common question I am asked by any manager or exec of a company when it comes to company culture work and workshops.
There is nothing worse than working in a toxic work environment or having toxic colleagues.
As a manager or HR manager, it can impossible to manage, but as a colleague, it will take a toll on your performance and mental health.
There are many versions of toxic company culture, every company has a variation or a different level of negative to toxic company culture.
A negative environment can start from tiny behaviours, it can surface when colleagues do not get on or when the business can start to struggle and a blame culture starts, it is essential you understand the start of the issues and how they manifested within your business.
If you list the traits of a toxic culture almost everyone will supply you a number of words and a few actions that are toxic. Keeping a record and centralising is a great first step in diagnosing the issue.
This will also highlight the issue of company culture and behaviours within businesses. It means different things to different people.
It is important to know from the start of the process: It is rare that every employee within your business will consider the culture to be toxic, this is not to say it is not, it highlights how important the subcultures and the culture is to some and not others and why some people are heads down and happily “just do my job”.
To address a bad company culture you typically need to undertake a company culture audit, the audit should be in-depth, some of the actions you need to take are:
- Undercover the traits of the business
- What are the accepted behaviours
- What are the successful actions people take (spoken of and the unspoken actions)
- Discover and log the traits of the leadership team and understand the leadership principles
- Highlight the traits of internal influencers, the catalysts, secret weapons, and hidden leaders
- Record the micro-moments of success and good performance
- Identify the traits of the individuals who have negatively impacted company culture
- Understand the level of toxicity and score from (low) 1 – 10 (extremely high).
Your next actions are imperative, you have to identify the issues to the whole company, call out good behaviours, call out bad traits and behaviours and then typically you need to build a small and diverse SWAT team to address these issues and prioritise as a business.
No Hacks Or Silver Bullet
Addressing bad or toxic company cultures will take months, yes months, there is no silver bullet.
One workshop aka a one and done will not fix anything, it will just raise many issues you will not be able to action or address.
A community approach to rebuilding trust, reshaping company cultures will mean reshaping your organisation, allowing staff turnover and potentially having difficult conversations with poor managers and the actions and communication of the leadership team, many organisations that are top down businesses require the management team to take a hard and long look at their actions and the traits they reward traditionally.
Culture Community Manager
Focus recommends appointing a culture community manager to remove the anxiety of speaking openly and not having the trust of their managers or the HR department.
If you create a culture committee it is essential to have a blend of levels from inexperienced to most experienced, help to shape what the objective of the meetings are and what success looks like and the most important step is to ensure that HiPPO’s (the highest-ranked person) do not take over the meetings and listen more than they talk.
Once you have created a matrix of these points, addressed behaviours, traits and communication between colleagues and teams you will be in a good position to reshape your organisation with better leadership principles, provide more training to your managers and apply more mentors and coaches than hiring more managers.
A company culture health score will be an important metric to have internally and update regularly.
Lastly, something to consider is reviewing monthly in (MBR’s) management meetings and between teams, you should get a feel for how the teams are feeling and interacting however by identifying and reviewing regularly you create an open feedback culture and a business that understands the importance of the company culture and working environment.
If you would like external assistance, please do get in contact below:
Important Company Culture Reading
What company culture is, is the resource we share and emphasize to read before workshops. It highlights what company culture really is and why it varies from office to office, from workplace to workplace.
Essential Related Resources