Anything that undermines your positive attitude, compromises your ability to perform at your best or exposes you to behaviours that could compromise you physically, mentally, and emotionally is toxic. This happens in the workplace.
Toxicity in the workplace is a growing issue, with many employees experiencing burnout. This is worsened by leaders failing to recognise the typical signs of a toxic workplace. Probably because they, too, are victims of a toxic workplace.
When it comes to toxic workplaces, many people have faced an abusive manager or have been bullied. In addition, these employees regularly experience the behaviour of ridicule, gaslighting, and backhanded comments.
Unfortunately, when left undetected, workplace toxicity is infectious, which will compromise the integrity of your team and eventually the organisational competitive advantage. Therefore, it is critical to recognise the issues but initiate corrective action promptly.
Whilst some of the behaviours are easily recognised, others are much more subtle, woven into the daily routine of conversation.
Typical descriptors in day-to-day conversation include:
Manipulation & gaslighting:
What could it look like?
- Putting blame on others when things don’t go well, while taking on the reigns personally when everything works out.
- Talking about the team or team members in bad light to others, sometimes, even when not prompted.
- Overpromising delivery to please people up the hierarchy ladder knowing that it is unrealistic, and hence putting the whole team at odds.
- Miscommunicating or hiding important information.
Top-Down Decision Making :
A key indicator of toxic work culture is that communication flows typically one way, more often from the top-down, with little or no employee feedback. This, therefore, is not conducive to a collaborative process.
Results before people:
While results are critical to running a sustainable business, when a company is absorbed in just numbers, these results come at the team’s expense. A great example is forcing your employees to follow overly ambitious work schedules to hit a goal. This results in unsustainable work-life balance and is a leading indicator of toxic work culture. If your employee’s wellbeing is ignored, it will result in waning engagement, burnout, and attrition.
Working in a team often involves resolving conflict or differences. When those conflicts are constant or negative, it could be a leading indicator that the working environment has turned toxic. Conflict left unresolved or ignored results in retaliation. All that conflict can make it challenging for teams to collaborate and make it more difficult to move forward as one team working towards organisational goals.
Core Values Undefined:
You will often see organisations boast their mission, vision and core values as a core foundation of their brand for all to see. They claim to nurture a community that upholds fundamental values, trust and teamwork, working towards a specific goal when the reality is different. This is often driven by marketing with a noticeable absence and direction from the executive team or HR. From the outside, everyone appears to be working to the best of their abilities but often has no real idea what they are working towards.
To combat this, we need strong leadership with a supportive network that values the employee. Employees who know they’re valued work harder. They stick around. They tell their friends. They are productive.
Do you have any question or comment? Do share with us in the comment section.