If you’ve ever worked somewhere toxic, you can probably spot a toxic corporate culture quickly. Talking with employees or simply watching the way they work and interact says a lot about the health of the organization. When there is a toxic corporate culture, the workflow and interactions between coworkers and even employees and customers is poisoned.
I once worked for a company with a toxic corporate culture. I only lasted about a year before I had to move on to a healthy organization. I have also talked with several other people who have worked in toxic organizations. There are five common signs of a toxic corporate culture.
1. Cogs in a wheel. Some organizations run like a mechanism and treat their people like mere cogs in the wheel, easily replaced and only as good as the job they perform. This devalues employees and fails to recognize the diverse resources each individual may bring to the company.
2. Tattletales. No one wants to feel like they have to watch their backs. In toxic corporate cultures, there are often employees or managers who purposely make trouble for other employees. This creates division and anxiety.
3. Limited communication. Wise leaders want to know what their people think, but in a toxic corporate culture low-level employees usually have limited access to executives. Plus, the information that is shared with employees may seem like it is “need to know” only.
4. Favoritism. If some employees get all the perks while others are ignored, the corporate culture will breed discontent and poor morale. This can happen at all levels of an organization from two employees who stick together and shun everyone else to managers that only promote their friends.
5. Low growth. Toxic corporate cultures focus on the task at hand while failing to set a course for employee and company growth. Personal and professional growth for employees is a vital aspect of organizational growth. Without it, the company will lose its vitality and employees may begin looking for opportunities to grow elsewhere.
While toxic corporate cultures display these signs of an unhealthy organization, the good news is that organizational culture can change. Like any culture, it takes time. Leaders can begin to reshape the corporate culture by making intentional changes to policies, practices, and even personnel. Managing the changes through a clear vision and communication will help others get on board to create a new corporate culture.
Look for our more ideas on changing corporate culture in the next post, part 4 of the series.
If you missed the first two posts in the series, you can find them here:
Check out the final post in the series: Evaluating Corporate Culture and Making Changes (Part 4)
Have you ever worked in a toxic corporate culture? What was it like and what did you do about it? Please share your insights in the comments below.