Company culture is a more prominent issue now than ever before. With nearly 54 million millennials making up the labor force, HR directors must be deliberate in promoting engagement and meaning for employees. We go into detail on the next big wave of culture happening right now, but what if your employees are not so into the way things are happening? What if they don’t like the changes and the environment feels like a toxic, negative space? Do you often hear these phrases like these:
- “We have always done it that way.”
- “That’s not the way we do things around here.”
- “That won’t work here.”
- “That isn’t in my job description.”
- “It’s not my problem.”
If these statements sound familiar, chances are that your company culture is toxic. A toxic company culture can cripple your business, especially with the proliferation of online reviews for businesses. HR will struggle to hire top talent when the environment of the business has a history of being toxic. In addition, current employees will become unmotivated, uninspired, and begin questioning their commitment to your future.
If you are currently dealing with a toxic company culture, here are five tips for detoxing that will help you turn your employees toward productivity, motivation, and a happier work environment.
1. Get Everyone Involved
A toxic environment is not just a leadership problem! Everyone in the company needs to get involved, regardless of their job title and role. Many times, departments will struggle to understand the unique challenges of the other departments and that can lead to tension among the teams. Other times, employees feel that their voice is not valued in the company. They may have great ideas, but they feel stifled. Your workers want to be proud of the company for whom they work, but if they are don’t have a voice, they struggle to invest personally in the business. Professor Leonard J. Glick said in an interview with Karsten Strauss of Forbes, “It all contributes to a feeling of ‘it’s mine,’ and most people, when it’s theirs, don’t want to fail, don’t want to build poor quality and don’t want to dissatisfy the customer.”
Encourage Participation to Reignite Enthusiasm
- Perform an anonymous culture questionnaire to employees and then address everyone’s concerns during an all hands meeting.
- Have teams learn what other teams are doing and let them get participate in thought partnerships to find new ways to work together.
- Create employee roundtables by mixing different teams together. Let the workers lead the groups and leave leadership out of it. Allow the groups to come up with top priority issues and possible solutions that will ease any tension in the workplace.
2. Be the Role Model
Leaders need to lead by example. Think back to when you were first starting work. Did you ever have a boss who said he or she would teach you managerial job skills, but instead never gave you additional job opportunities? Perhaps your boss hung signs saying, “Your Mother Doesn’t Work Here,” but never cleaned the coffee pot or refilled the ice and your team received scathing emails when it wasn’t done. You must act on your own expectations and promises. Being a role model for employees inspires them to follow your lead and earns you respect.
- Choose your battles wisely—Is a dirty coffee pot really worth a toxic company culture? Probably not.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt—Your employees want to do well in their jobs. When you believe in them, it gives them a sense of pride in their work.
- Validate employee feelings—If an employee says they are frustrated with a co-worker, don’t tell them it’s impossible because that co-worker is great at his or her job. Practice empathy and help the employee find a resolution.
3. Seek Long-Term Solutions
Think you’ll solve your culture problem by throwing a fun event? Think again.
The truth is: Quick wins only go so far. Employees are seeking long-term solutions. They want to be part of an organization that they value, trust, and respect. Roll out quick pulse surveys and really listen to your employees. Think strategically and you’ll get the results you want from your employees. In turn, they’ll be more motivated to stick around.
4. Be Consistent
You want the message to the employees to show you care, so be consistent with new programs that are rolled out. Follow through on new rules, SOPs, and policies. Anna Johansson says in her blog Consistency Is the One Rule in Building a Great Company Culture, “As long as you treat people with respect and remain consistent in whatever company culture you end up choosing, you should have no trouble making your organization tighter, more efficient and more satisfied overall.” Inconsistency causes confusion, miscommunication, and uncertainty. By sticking to what you say, you can avoid these issues and promote employee satisfaction.
5. Keep the Conversation Going
Don’t stop at the All Hands Meeting and think the issue is resolved. Detoxing your culture takes time and effort. Keep the conversations going through manager and employee 1-on-1’s, team building events and future All Hands meetings. Discover your company culture, whatever it is, by asking the right questions, and be ready, willing, and brave enough to listen. Above all: Don’t keep your workforce in the dark. Gregory P. Smith notes in his article on management that 69% of employees said the best way management and executives can improve the work environment is through better communication. Be committed to your employees, be honest with them, and take their feedback seriously.
Whether you already are experiencing a toxic culture or you want to ensure you avoid one, Pendolino can help you foster dynamic and enthusiastic relationships with your employees. Take leadership to the next level and build your company culture around your values. For guidance regarding Company Culture, Change Management, Succession Planning, Retention, Leadership and Executive Coaching and Development, and all things “HR”, The Pendolino Group is here to support you and your team. Contact us today!