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Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Business, Culture, Featured, Future of Leadership, Leadership | 2 comments

How To Create a Toxic Workplace

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Sometimes we need to look at what we don’t want to understand what we do want. To have a great workplace environment, it’s critical to know what you need to remove that is creating barriers to doing great work.

Toxic workplaces are immediately known by our gut response when in one. The neurons in our bellies can signal to us before our brains know that something is not quite right.  Think of a time when you suddenly had butterflies in your stomach for an unknown—unconscious—reason.

Toxic workplaces are obviously viewable, too. Think of a time when you witnessed a colleague publicly embarrassed. The lack of respect and treating a person with dignity is a certain sign of toxicity.

To have a great workplace environment, it’s critical to know what you need to remove that is creating barriers to doing great work.

So, why write a piece on how to create a toxic workplace? I want readers to have labels that make it easier to identify toxic behaviors that undermine people’s abilities to do their best work. When we can label something, we can more easily address the problem.

The list below doesn’t include some of the more obvious examples of toxic work environments: yelling, public tantrums, passive-aggressive behaviors, or controlling behaviors.

  1. Turn the cheek to disruptive behavior.
  2. Avoid removing barriers to progress.
  3. Avoid addressing siloed-thinking.
  4. Don’t coach or show appreciation.
  5. Allow leaders to be self-serving.
  6. Communicate on a need-to-know basis.
  7. Don’t prioritize workload.
  8. Assume employees can’t be trusted.
  9. Assume employees won’t do the right thing.
  10. Believe your intentions are known.
  11. Believe employees’ personal lives don’t affect their professional lives.
  12. Let Drama Triangles undermine interactions and communication patterns.
  13. Avoid addressing high stress levels.

There is no room for humanity to flourish when toxic work environments spoil work.

There is no room for humanity to flourish when toxic work environments spoil work. Optimism cannot emerge where toxicity dominates. Neither can human flourishing. Believers in the human-side of business seek out causes of toxic behaviors and take swift action to eradicate them. This may mean removing a person or multiple people.

We all want to do great work. Toxic work environments undermine this basic human desire. It’s a leaders responsibility to create the context that doesn’t tolerate toxic behaviors that create toxic cultures. Shame on the leader who lets toxicity go unaddressed. In the end people, the business, and the customers suffer.

 

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Copyright: tiero / 123RF Stock Photo

Shawn Murphy

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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  • Aaad

    Great list, serves as a foundation of what things to assess when looking to improve the work environment. What’s more difficult though, is when executives or those in high level leadership positions (c-suite) are doing all or some of the above. It comes down to doing what you can to bring attention to that and hopefully change the behavior, or leaving the organization because you can’t control, what you can’t control.

    • http://www.switchandshift.com/ Shawn Murphy

      Thanks, Aaad. You make an important point.

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