Could your organisation be developing a toxic culture? After 20 years of taking leadership teams on what I call “journeys of discovery”, clear patterns emerge. The biggest observation is the impact that one single toxic relationship can have on a whole business.
I have seen this toxic influence at both ends of the spectrum: from a small business of just 12 people to one organisation turning over $350 million with 1,000 staff.
However, there are good news: What is seemingly a ‘don’t go there’ challenge can have quick turn arounds when it comes to dealing with destructive relationships.
Turning Around A Toxic Culture Into A Constructive Culture
Four qualities need to be present to maximise a culture turnaround:
- A willingness to take responsibility for actions, attitudes and behaviours in the interest of building a better business
- And a willingness to stop and look in the leadership mirror – to share high quality data as how people see each other
- The creation of a safe, fun learning environment to share the feedback from that leadership mirror
- Sharing the learning experience with immediate team members; those very people that the difficult relationship affects most.
Of course, often the most difficult of these four is the first. Many people find it easy to blame others, or circumstances, for their ‘poor behaviour’. Actually, the challenge is getting them to accept responsibility.
Most people don’t have the skills or tools to work through these tough workplace environments without egos being bruised or people feeling they are being bullied. In fact, it is this fear that stops any progress. So the solution lies in providing tools that help manage that fear and build confidence.
It’s hard to argue good quality data.
Particularly for technically or task-oriented managers, too often this healing process is seen as ‘touchy feely’. However, bring high-quality data into the equation and the momentum begins. That is why the cornerstone of Bridgeworks programs is always good data. Indeed we constantly see the value of using 2 questionnaires:
The leadership Mirror
We observe the particular impact of data that represent whether a person is either constructive and bridge ‘building’ (let’s call it “Blue behaviour”) or defensive, destructive or bridge ‘burning’ in their behaviour and attitude (“Red behaviour”).
The questionnaire results highlight where the problematic and toxic relationships reside in the team.
In our leadership and team programs we complement the data discovery with strategically designed, fun activities, mostly outdoor. Because they create a dynamic fear-reducing context, we see egos, poor attitudes and behaviours naturally emerge.
So the stage is set for an open and honest discussion about the negative impact of the data above on their relationships and workplace culture.
Connecting real data to real problem-solving challenges allows blame and egos to be put to one side in the interests of the team moving forward.
…And the Team Health Check
Another powerful measure is Bridgeworks Team Health check. It is an audit by team members showing how they assess the ‘health’ of their team.
Here are real data comparing an executive leadership’s assessment of team health prior to intervention and 3 months post the program. Note that this team was responsible for leading over 700 staff.
This table compares January 2016 results with the original results in October 2015. As you can see, scores improved on every single measure (some quite dramatically): They went from an overall “just average” score to a “green light” score overall and for every measure!
As a result of the intervention, over a 3-month period:
- • Communication improved 110.8%,
- • Trust improved 52.9%
- • Team feedback improved 79.4%
Yes, it is worth stopping and smelling the roses if difficult relationships are impacting your workplace culture.
Are you sick of your organisation’s or team’s toxic culture or even just “so-so” culture? Have a chat about how to solve that toxic culture and make your organisation a “great place to be”. It is obligation-free. Contact Wayne