Hardly a day goes past at the moment without some mention in the media or the news or more frequently now in blogs, podcasts and articles of a culture or aspect of work being “toxic” – it’s the new word of the day.
It got us to thinking and discussing what “toxic” really means – and once you know what it is, what do you do about it? Toxic in its past form was and still is something that is deadly. Indeed, the word “toxin” means a poison of some sort, and those who practice in that part pf medicine are called toxicologists. In current business parlance, “toxic” is used with increasing frequency to describe a culture, or a workplace that has problems, usually leading to bad, or very bad, outcomes. The clinical indicators include, but are not limited to low motivation, high turnover, and poor productivity – generally seen as a “lack of morale”.
We’d go further:
- Poor meeting structures leading to wasted time
- Defensiveness – so underlying causes of problems are not surfaced and dealt with
- Withheld contribution – more wasted time and low quality conversations
- Poor behaviours creating poor relationships
- Negative impacts
- Decision making that is not followed through with the action agreed
And it’s all curable.
Some examples seen recently are:
A company with some key leaders who are brilliant in many, many ways: bright, credible, passionate about their business, with great commercial acumen – and awful in others: domineering, and defensive, to the point where has become impossible to give them feedback. So they have no idea of the problems created by their own behaviour. Impact – good people are leaving, non-disclosure agreements are being signed, and the underlying problems are not getting solved. Don’t get us wrong, they are not domineering and defensive all of the time. Sometimes they are positively endearing in their openness. But then in another week you could get sacked for saying the wrong thing. The unpredictability of mood makes people keep their heads down and stay safe
A company with a senior team who have lots of experience. They want to develop their managers to step up and take more responsibility and can’t understand why they don’t. So they assume it is because of lack of ability. The managers, on the other hand, can see lots of problems and are disillusioned that their leaders haven’t sorted things out. They try suggesting solutions periodically but don’t feel listened to so they have given up. Now they just moan about the leaders. Result in this instance – low profits and high staff turnover.
At Levati, the work we do is about connecting people. Faulty connections comes from two sources: outside the human and inside the human. Outside the human is, for example, how meetings are structured, who gets to talk to who, how decisions are made, business processes. Inside the human are the fundamental fears we all have (am I good enough? Will I get found out?) and the skills to connect for real with other humans. We work on both those levels to connect your business to more of itself so that you can effectively surface and deal with the issues that are stopping your business from flourishing. Our skill is in helping people show up and have real conversations, because unreal conversations are expensive.
Find out more about how to de-toxify for success – get in touch today for an informal discussion and some thoughts on how Levati can help.
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David and Frances
And The Levati Team