Have you ever experienced a toxic work environment?
Likely the answer is yes. Many of us have and it's one of those things that just robs you of joy and creativity. I once had a senior business leader client from a Fortune 500 company describe the effects of a negative workplace culture like the feeling of "having a cotton ball in my brain."
Maybe it's a few dissatisfied employees bringing everyone down with their poor attitudes, or perhaps it's a lot of little things (lack of integrity, gossip, or trust issues) that have gone unaddressed for a period of time and are now the norm. Either way, the true impact of a toxic workplace culture is devastating on the bottom line, long-term business growth and human capital perspective.
So the question is, if a toxic culture does exist, how can it be positively transformed?
My consulting firm's sweet spot is enabling organizations to create, by design, its culture over a specific period of time. And although every company is unique and has different needs, there is a framework my company has developed over the past thirty years to positively disturb an organizational environment and get to work on creating a high-performing one. Having worked with 10,000 senior business leaders across 300 different companies in over 100 countries, I can confirm this framework is bug tested, meaning it works.
Here's the framework high-level:
Leave the baggage of the past where it belongs -- behind you.
When working with teams, it's important to keep the past separate from the future. Instead of creating a future from your past, which most of us do, and ultimately produce some improved version of the past for your future, we actually get to complete the past and put it behind you and the team.
The goal is not to get rid of the team or company's past or completely dismiss it, but rather to shift where the past exists for the team. When the past is successfully put in the past, it leaves an uninterrupted view from which to create a powerful future.
While many of us often look to the past to help us avoid certain mistakes or replicate things that have worked for us, this can also hinder our ability to forge a totally unique path, one that may help your company and team produce the unpredictable -- a breakthrough.
Set the rules of the game.
If you want the company to perform at its absolute best, a crucial ingredient is to ensure everyone is playing the same game. For instance, if you wanted your team to play soccer, the very first thing you would need to do is learn the rules of the game.
To start, soccer is a game played by two teams of 11 players where you kick a round ball and under no circumstances you can touch the ball with your arms or hands, except if you are a goalkeeper. It's a ninety-minute game broken into two sessions with a half time. The entire purpose of soccer is to score as many points by kicking or heading the ball into the opponent's goal area. Without knowing this information, you and your team would not be able to play soccer -- period.
So how does this relate to a high-performance culture? We work with clients to set the ground rules for being a high-performance leadership team in a way that gives each team member access to playing the same game. Is integrity something that's important to your company? What about trust? You really have to think about what core principles you want to invest in and make them part of the rules of your company's game. Setting this practice up actually sets the stage to positively disturb the company's culture.
Create and align on a shared vision.
Unfortunately, it's common for people who work on a team or within a company to be misaligned on what the business's objectives are and how to get there. This is a huge missed opportunity and one that needs to be corrected in order to reach that next level of performance every company craves.
Intentionally getting key leadership team members in one room and designing the type of strategic future everyone can align on and get behind is immensely powerful, and can mean all the difference between company growth and a dreaded sense of stagnancy. Make alignment a priority and you'll soon experience a shift in the way your business operates.
Establishing a strong company culture isn't something that happens overnight. It takes months, or perhaps even years of investment and a lot of walking the talk. A company culture revamp has helped countless businesses grow and there's no better time than now to get on it.