A toxic workplace is a breeding grounds for unsuccessful cringe moment conversations.
Every company is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for repairing a toxic workplace. Before you take action, you must first define and study your company’s culture in order to pinpoint your specific problems. You may now construct your treatment approach with a comprehensive grasp of the cultural sickness.
Plan Your Repair Strategy
It is critical to recognize that change is difficult. Don’t try to solve everything at the same time. Prioritize. Prioritize the problem behaviors that have the most impact, and smaller concerns will most likely resolve themselves.
Here are some strategic antidotes to many of the most common workplace problems:
- Listen to your employees. Hear their grievances, validate their experiences, and make the changes necessary to address their issues. This can come in the form of one-on-one conversations, a town hall meeting with Human Resources, or simple blind surveys. Listen, validate, and work together to find solutions.
- Assign realistic workloads and deadlines. This means taking the time to learn what your employees do. What are they responsible for, and how long do those tasks take? Remember that there are only 60 minutes in every hour and assign tasks accordingly.
- Communicate transparently. Employees cannot do their jobs well without understanding the context. Having the information to do one’s job reduces confusion and frustration, making employees happier and more efficient. Hold weekly meetings and send frequent communications (written or video). Share the information they need to know. – good, bad, and ugly. Ask employees for their input – create an atmosphere of inclusion.
- Acknowledge work well done. A study by the Boston Consulting Group reports “appreciation for your work” as the most important factor to job happiness. Find ways to show appreciation. Tell employees what they are doing well – they will feel appreciated (and be more likely to continue doing it). Build a supportive environment by sharing employee successes and make positive encouragement a group activity.
- Treat all employees by the same rules. Playing favorites breeds resentment. Examine your company policies – do they unfairly benefit one group over others? Be open to feedback; employees may see problems that you do not. Then even the playing field and require all employees to follow the rules.
- Foster emotional intelligence. The BCG Study included good relationships with colleagues and superiors among the top five elements leading to job satisfaction. Banish bullying, disrespect, and dismissive behavior. Prioritize emotional intelligence. Provide resources to help employees expand their emotional intelligence. Improved emotional intelligence can cure several ills.
While these are all good suggestions for every company, be mindful of your business’ challenges, and choose your action items accordingly. With a clear plan in place, you are ready to act.
Implement Your Repair Plan
John Kotter of Kotter International asserts that leaders are catalysts for workplace change. If you are in charge, you have a powerful platform for motivating change. But, be prepared to live the changes you want to see if you want anyone to take those changes seriously.
Making change easy, rewarding and socially acceptable are the keys to success. Humans have a strong drive to be a part of the group. Normalize the behaviors you seek by asking the social influencers in your business to promote those behaviors, too.
Make it easy for your employees to implement positive changes by removing barriers to success. This, again, will require that you listen to your employees to know what those barriers are.
Finally, help your employees see how the changes you are proposing will reward them with a more positive workplace. Change takes time and you must remain committed to the plan in order to seeing sustained improvement.
Reflect and Adapt
Give your new policies and practices time to take root. Change will not happen overnight. After a few months, take stock. What has changed? What has not?
Meet with the people you’ve enlisted to assist you with your implementation. Consider how things have gone. Diverse viewpoints can provide helpful information. Evaluate your progress and make any adjustments to your efforts. Maintain open lines of communication.
Cultural change is a big undertaking, but well worth the effort. Perseverance will lead you to success.
Is any of this daunting? If it feels impossible or you are unable to proceed, you do not have to go it alone. Contact me for a consultation to discuss your unique situation and how I could help.
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