How to change a toxic work-culture in 5 steps

Employers have the joy and pain of being responsible for the culture of their workplace. When culture becomes toxic, it is on the head of leadership to find fixes. Most leaders would prefer to hear otherwise, but here’s the tough truth: your work culture may or may not have been created by you, but it is up to you to change it.

So, where do you start?

1. Asses the current culture of your company. A company assessment can take various forms: a survey, a meeting, an anonymous reporting box. Whatever the method, it is important to find ways to ask questions that will give you an understanding of the underlying realities of employees’ lives at your company.

Ask questions of yourself and others like:
What’s a common trait among employees?
Why do employees continue to work for you? Why do they leave?
What’s the thing that helps employees “get ahead” in your company?
What are the biggest strengths of the organization? What are its weaknesses?

The answers to these questions give you a baseline for where you’re at right now and help you to plan your next moves.

2. Evaluate your findings. Once you’ve collected answers to the above questions, it is time for you to begin looking at the results. What trends and patterns are you seeing? What responses are equal? What trends are missing that should be there?

3. Plan your next moves. Once you’ve got a picture of your organization’s current state, you can begin planning the way forward. Set your goals and the clear vision for the future state of the organization. Consider what you would like the organization to look like. What kind of productivity goals will you have for your organization? How many employees? What roles will you create? Do any need to be eliminated? This step must not be settled on lightly. The goal, once set, should be extremely difficult to change. Making changes in the middle of the pursuit of the cultural change, can slow your progress and cause confusion. Additionally, introducing multiple or conflicting goals can breed change-exhaustion and contribute to both toxic workplace culture and change-resistance. Set a goal that is long-term, achievable, and important enough to warrant the effort you are going to put forth to make a real change.

4. Set timelines. Setting realistic timelines cements your goals and helps to ensure that you’re going to make a change happen. Setting timelines involves planning how much you can achieve within the time allotted and also involves making sure that everyone who is integral to driving a workplace change is on-board and ready to make that change happen.

5. Be consistent and rally the team. As you work towards your goals, be consistent in your communication and messaging. When you settle on a timeline, make sure that everyone involved knows about the timelines and understands their roles and responsibilities. Assign tasks carefully and don’t hesitate to make sure they are achieved. Check in with your team to monitor benchmarks and consistently remind your team of the vision ahead. Communicate with pictures and graphs that show the long-term vision. Celebrate the small achievements and progress along the way. Re-adjust the steps if you find that it is absolutely necessary, but do not change the goal.

What are your thoughts?

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