Why and how do workplace cultures become toxic? The funny thing is that very few employees come into work with the intention of behaving in an interrupting, unkind, or unproductive fashion. People have good intentions. Most of the time, however, a toxic culture is the result of small, unhappy interactions that build up and create a whole community that unintentionally supports bad or not-so-helpful behavior. This subject makes news headlines but there are very few public discussions about how to prevent toxicity or change it.
That's why we put on this webinar for you! Click to get it on-demand:
Read below for the highlights:
There are a couple of ways that toxic behaviors develop, but they are rooted in the concept of the self-serving ME [discussed at 23:26 in the recording]. In most westernized cultures and societies, the focus on one's self is prioritized at the expense of others - even if it's not meant to be malicious.
From as early as our school years, we are taught that we are supposed to only be evaluated on our sole performance, not in the way we help others do their best.
At work, people are praised and admired for climbing the corporate ladder, even when it involves stepping on others. Or there are behaviors like not giving credit to others that is rewarded by receiving bonuses from reaching quotas. As organizational or team cultures continue to reward self-serving behaviors, there's a higher chance that toxic behaviors or employees will result.
There are a lot of things you can put into practice at your workplace culture, but here are some two high-level approaches:
1) Define Values and Connect Behaviors
In the webinar, Ron reviews some great examples of how to associate behaviors with certain values. Here is one example of a company core value that you can use to understand this concept further:
What are some behaviors that you can connect to your company values? Do they help your employees understand how to live out your values?
2) Performance Management
More traditional workplaces implement annual or mid-year reviews, which involve just the manager and the employee. With our clients we like to encourage the concept of 360° feedback - an evaluation of employee by their peers, manager(s), and reports. This method of performance management gives the employee an idea of how they are contributing in their role from a wider, more well-rounded scope of the workplace.
You can also do two for one! You can ask questions about an employee's behavior as part of the 360° feedback. Amp it up another notch and encourage these performance reviews to happen more than once or twice a year.
"Is there a DH standard for measuring toxicity or cultural health?"
Our DH standard is the DHi, which measures your level of happiness and identifies gaps and strengths in your organizational culture that impact it. Happier, positive cultures really do create happier employees. If you're interested in taking it, you can take the individual survey for free!
"My immediate manager only checks in with me during our annual evaluation period. She has no idea what I'm working on or how I'm doing or feeling. On the other hand, I check in with my employees often and have built great relationships with them. How can I broach this with my manager?"
It's great that you have frequent check-ins with your employees and want that for yourself too. The best way to convey this is to communicate it to your manager. Don't try to make them feel bad for not realizing there's a better way, most managers are unaware of what should change unless it's brought to their attention. You can start off by saying, "I'd really like to communicate with you more since it helps me know if I'm on track at work. Could we do more than one evaluation a year?" See where that conversation goes, we bet it will move things forward!
If you're unsure of where to start looking into your culture - we can help with our People-Systems Audit workshop. We'll help you discover the strengths and gaps of your systems for a better, more positive culture: