I have been lucky to have worked with a lot of different companies on governance and sustainability, across many different industries. Sometimes it’s been good, and other times challenging.
When heading into a business I quickly try to ascertain the culture, the people and the way the business works. One thing that I have learned is that business success is strongly influenced by culture. And culture, is strong influenced by the leadership team. Poor leadership can create a toxic workplace culture, and businesses that have a toxic workplace culture are doomed.
I guess it’s no surprise that a toxic workplace can have far reaching repercussions for the performance of an organisation. The impact on employee efficiency, absent days and employee turnover, to name only a few, will all be adversely impacted.
Governance structures are hugely important in reducing the potential of a toxic workplace developing. Just as important, an organisation needs to have strong leadership to utilise, work within and be supported by the governance structures that it has put in place.
Toxic cultures are business killers. In a Fast Company article titled ‘How to fix your toxic culture’ by Meghan Butler, she noted “Office culture doesn’t turn toxic because of a few bad seeds. It turns toxic because leadership didn’t see or outright ignored the signs that something was amiss.’ I agree.
Butler also states in her article that “Resolution begins with leadership discovering how their own actions or inaction fanned the toxic fumes. Taking time out to think strategically versus responding reactively under stress is key. Leaders need to recognize their own fears, insecurities, and road blocks before they can identify the same among their team.” I also agree.
Accountability and ownership of any problem is an essential pre-requisite for any ‘leader’ to make positive changes and is an essential requirement of leadership. If it is always someone else’s fault or responsibility, with no accountability or ownership, then effective and beneficial organisational change will not happen, and this is detrimental to the organisation’s stakeholders and, where the issue is a toxic workplace, is especially detrimental to the organisation’s employees.
As former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink states in the best-selling leadership book: Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, “Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”
So, the question for you is “Do you have the governance structures in place that you need to create a winning culture and deliver your business goals?” If the answer is no, or you are not sure, it’s time to make some changes.