A toxic culture is the opposite of a conscious culture. When your body is full of toxins it won’t perform at its best. In fact, it may make the body sluggish, tired and overweight. The same happens with a toxic culture. Here are some tell signs that you have a toxic culture.
People are motivated by personal gain, status, hierarchy and titles which are important to the ego. People create internal competition and want to win at all cost. They want power and control and try to manipulate people and situations to get what they want sometimes they might even use bullying behaviour. Personal agendas are sometimes even more important than the company vision.
Managers give orders, people follow and don’t dare to speak up or speak openly, even if what has been ordered doesn’t make any sense at all. Managers may micromanage with little or no vision and manage by creating undue pressure and focus on short term results.
People withhold information, their ideas, their talent and their truth completely or only share it selectively depending on what serves them personally. Sometimes they have given up because no one listens to me anyway and they become disengaged. Or maybe they have given up because of the lack of appreciation or because the leaders take credit for other people’s achievements.
The organisation is run through rigid structure, processes and rules have to be followed and thinking outside the box is not encouraged. People are afraid of breaking the rules. Do as you are told as per your job description and nothing to the left or right. Failure is punished.
People make excuses for not achieving their targets and try to find problems elsewhere, blaming other people or circumstances and complaining about the lack of resources etc. It is important to be right and to criticise and judge others.
Relationships are often dysfunctional and reactive. You may witness defensive behaviour, drama and infighting, personal vendettas, anger or unresolved longstanding conflicts. You may find people using divisive language, us and them thinking ie the bosses and the staff and silo thinking all of which leads to little collaboration.
Disrespect, gossip talk about people, informal grapevine is more effective than company communication. Sarcasm and cynicism bigger than trust
Little happiness at work, no smiles or laughter, no one is talking with each other unless they have to, low energy, people feel drained thinking about going to work, fear is palpable when you walk into a meeting and in the worst case people feel concerned for their job because no one is safe.
If you recognise your own organisation in one or more of the above descriptions, even if it is just in part, it is definitely time for a cultural transformation.