Toxic is your work culture?

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It is time to STOP living in ‘denial’

“The key to being a good leader is keeping the people who hate you away from those who are still undecided.”

HBR describes Culture as “consistent, observable patterns of behavior in businesses”. It affects the way we interact, communicate, and handle one another. Our decision-making processes, our tolerance levels, and our day-to-day emotions.

Toxic work culture

You’ll see that this definition excludes free lunches, endless vacations, and snacks. These benefits make it easier for people to put up with a bad culture. Driving continual disruption, transformation, digitization, and innovation as a business may seem fantastic.

Not so much, though, if the typical employee isn’t prepared to handle the challenge. Globally, businesses have expressed to us their concern that they are losing their culture. More workplace cultures are becoming a terrible mashup as a result of rising stress.

In my conversations with top HR executives in the last 30 years, I’ve posed the question regarding organizational culture, and they all seem to agree that over 80% of companies suffer from toxic work cultures.

If you were to ask employees privately to describe their organization’s work culture, more than a few might answer; high stress, overload, low morale, insecurity, and toxic leadership.  Though the executive leadership may almost always deny that such a thing even exists in their organization.  They would like to believe that all is hunky dory and would like to use the cover of ‘business results’ to affirm that all is well.

Studies have shown that everything from employee contentment, fatigue, and teamwork to objective metrics like financial performance and absenteeism is influenced by emotional culture.

Numerous empirical studies demonstrate the major influence of emotions on people’s performance on tasks, level of engagement and creativity, level of commitment to their organizations, and ability to make judgments.

Better performance, quality, and customer service were invariably linked to positive emotional cultures. Similar to how unfavorable emotional cultures were linked to high turnover, poor performance, and group anguish, despair, and dread.

When the subject turns to company culture, ongoing stress and negative emotions translate into people not treating each other well.  The leadership styles do have a great influence on company culture.  The question is do leaders influence the culture or does the culture influence the style of leadership?

If we believe that the company culture is made of consistent, observable patterns of behavior, then it is more likely that stressed-out employees and managers may contribute immensely to the toxicity of organizational culture.

In the face of a tough culture where “faster and cheaper” is the norm for businesses, it is easy for leaders to slip into styles that may not serve them in the long run and turn not just their behaviors but also the culture into a toxic one.

Leaders, therefore, need to urgently get out of ‘denial’ and become ‘mindful’ of the influence they have on building the culture in organizations.  They need to own up to the responsibility at all levels.

The problems of toxicity in work cultures are more pronounced than ever post-pandemic.

If you want to assess your team’s culture?
DM me to arrange for a customized online assessment and report.

If you want to develop ‘Mindful Leadership’ in your organization?
DM me to arrange for a customized assessment-centric workshop for your key leadership resources.

What according to you is the fallout of a toxic culture and leadership?

  1. Low morale
  2. High stress
  3. High turnover
  4. Poor performance

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