Leadership and the Toxic Workplace Culture (Part Two)

Who you attract isn’t determined by what you want. It’s determined by who you are. - John Maxwell
 
Part-One Recap:
 
A toxic workplace environment is defined as “a workplace where a negative atmosphere caused by coworkers, supervisors, and/or the company culture, makes it difficult to work or progress in a job.”  
 
Perhaps you can identify with this working definition. In fact, 87% of those surveyed for the study said that they worked in such an environment.
 
The leader’s role in reversing a toxic workplace environment begins with two things: First, the leader defines the workplace culture. The leader can’t expect to have great workplace culture if the leader does not possess the character and integrity to create it. The leader defines the culture by who he or she is. Second, the leader must defend the culture. It’s not enough to define the culture, the leader must defend it. This means everyone in leadership is clear on what it is and everyone sets the example of what it looks like and everyone is accountable for it.
 
Many CEOs and CFOs acknowledge the benefits of a healthy workplace environment but do not know where to start when it comes to fixing it. Taking a few steps can turn the tide.
 
Don’t assume everyone knows or understands the culture
 
It would stand to reason that values and culture are an integral part of the onboarding process. If it’s not, it should be. But that aside, the leader must build upon it. The culture and environment are always evolving. At every opportunity, the leader should remind people that they represent the culture and the health of the organization. 
 
Everyone is held accountable
 
Patrick Lencioni says, “Great teams do not hold back from one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.” 
 
And this must be the guiding philosophy of an organization if it is to be healthy. If all people do is bottle-up their frustrations and concerns and never speak up, even though that employee is an otherwise ideal team member, he or she is inadvertently contributing to the toxic culture. Employees must take ownership of the culture they want and it begins with mutual accountability.
 
Regularly employ T.L.C.
 
The benchmarks of a strong workplace culture that will cause it to thrive are found in three basic ingredients:
 
1. Trust - The foundation of a workplace culture is trust. When people trust each other, the sky’s the limit in terms of what can be accomplished.
 
2. Loyalty - Loyalty to one another, built on trust, is the glue that holds everything together in an organization. This should be guarded and protected.
 
3. Communication - Nothing will undo a strong workplace culture any faster than a lack of good communication. People do not want to be left in the dark. Poor communication can lead to a lack of trust and of loyalty. 
 
For additional reading, check out Doug’s ebook - “Employee Engagement: Creating Space for Engaged Employees and a Healthy Culture.” Order on Amazon at: tinyurl.com/2c48apu6.
 
©2023 Doug Dickerson
 
Doug Dickerson is a Certified Maxwell Leadership Team member. Read more at Dougdickerson.net  For workplace culture and employee engagement workshops, email Doug at: Dougdickersonleadership@gmail.com.

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