Careers & Entrepreneurship / Editorial

6 Signs Your Workplace Has A Toxic Culture

Originally published on Leading Edge Global.

Has the work ethic in your team been slipping recently? Have you found it difficult to motivate the troops and inspire them to do great work? Maybe you’re close to slamming your laptop closed at the end of each Zoom meeting due to the lack of enthusiasm from the other end. 

A toxic workplace can take a huge toll on the mental health of your team, as well as your overall productivity as a business. In this article, we’ll be sharing some signs that your workplace may have a toxic culture, and we’ll also be exploring some ways to fix common culture issues.

Let’s dive in.

Your team lacks enthusiasm

Did you know that 93 per cent of workers believe their productivity drops when they work with people with bad attitudes? This means that a lack of enthusiasm is contagious and it’s best to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. You’ll know if your team is feeling uninspired if there is a sense of negativity when assigning tasks, or a lack of enthusiasm apparent when handing over completed work.

You want to address this quickly before it spreads too far. If you notice droopy faces or uninterested looks in your workplace, this is a great opportunity to conduct an Employee Engagement Survey. An Employee Engagement Survey will help your team communicate their dissatisfaction and, if done properly, can help you get your organisation out of a rut.

Your team are too focused on the hierarchy

Are your team preoccupied with their job titles, job descriptions and seniority levels? This indicates that your organisation has, either consciously or subconsciously, been putting too much emphasis on power and status. Often, this results in work being done so that an individual can move up the hierarchy, instead of a commitment to your overall purpose as an organisation. 

It is actually hierarchy that promotes micro-management. Instead, you should be fostering a thriving culture whose focus is not on getting promotions, but on achieving tangible outcomes as an organisation. Bringing your team’s awareness back to the bigger picture will keep things in perspective. 

Your team are too afraid to fail

Have you noticed that your employees are afraid to take risks and, therefore, are playing it safe? This often arises when there is a fear of failure, where your staff are worried that they are going to “get in trouble” if they do the wrong thing.

This type of fear creates a culture that is unable to think and act creatively. Playing it safe does not lead to innovation. Encourage your team to fail and remind them that there are no consequences for new ideas, whether they are effective or not.

Your team are often confused

To run a successful business, your team needs to be on the same page. Otherwise, it makes way for misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Do you often hear the phrases “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that” or “I didn’t think that was my job?” When your team starts to question their roles and there is a clear lack of understanding about who is doing what, it can lead to bickering, resentment, and a lack of productivity.

You can overcome this by improving your communications skills as a leader. This can be a challenge, especially when remote working is involved [link to remote working article]. Scheduling regular one-to-one meetings with your employees will help you open the lines of communication. You can’t afford to not communicate well as a team, as research shows that teams that communicate well have a 47% higher return to shareholders over a five-year period.

Your team don’t stick around

Are you scared to open your inbox because you’re worried you’ll find another resignation letter? This means your turnover rate is too high. Put simply, your turnover rate is the rate at which you are needing to replace employees once others leave. It’s well known that the key to good productivity in the workplace is keeping turnover low.

Start by comparing your turnover rate to other organisations. Generally, you want your turnover rate to be less than 3.5 per cent. You can do this by dividing the number of exits in a month, by the average number of employees, and multiplying that by 100 to get a percentage.

If yours is higher than this, depending on your industry, you’re going to want to make some changes. The first step is to find the problem. Why aren’t people sticking around? You may find it is one single issue causing high turnover or a range of issues combined. The solution may be better training, improved communication, or more efficient recruiting. 

Your team are afraid to speak up

If you ask for your team to come up with ideas and then get crickets, they may be scared to share. A fear of speaking up is a lot more common than you might think, with 50 percent of employees choosing to stay silent at work. 

Firstly, determine if your team is keeping quiet because they don’t want to share bad news, or if they are not sharing ideas because they are worried about receiving criticism. Again, this comes down to open lines of communication within the workplace, and reminding your team it’s OK to fail. Management plays a key role here. When a team sees their leader as encouraging, they are more likely to voice their opinions

About Author

Lauren is global thought leader in business transformation, specialising at the intersection of human potential and technological innovation. #culture, #leadership, #womeninleadership, #digitaltransformation, #professionaldevelopment