Monday, 16 September 2019

Toxic culture indicators

Marsh & McLennan (2019, p. 3)
Poor workplace culture has been identified as a key reason for employee burnout, with a poor culture contributing to poor customer service, reducing stakeholder engagement, risk of reputational damage, and disengagement and under-performance of staff. These risks are significant to the organisation, and must be managed by the board, with directors are having to be hands-on in redressing toxic workplaces, according to a 2019 Marsh and McLennan report on dysfunctional culture.

There are ten dysfunctional work culture warning signs (Marsh & McLennan, 2019), which include:

  1. Unclear organisational vision or set of values. If you don't have a clear organisational philosophy or values, it is very hard to make well aligned ad hoc decisions.
  2. All board communication goes through the CEO. This can mean that the CEO keeps critical risk information away from the board, and isolates it from the rest of the organisation
  3. Leadership infighting. The CEO sets the staff against the board; the board blame the chair. Infighting and political manoeuvering outweigh organisational goals
  4. Debate and challenge are not encouraged. The elephant in the room is never discussed, and, like the US railways, people think they are in the wrong business and the organisation fails
  5. Limited transparency into organisational decision-making. This element leads into the item above: unless it is clear how a decision is made, it is impossible to challenge it
  6. Complacency and resistance to discuss culture. people think that the organisation is "OK" as it is. Nothing needs to change. Apathy can result, feeding into the element above, or a growing sense of omnipotence.
  7. Bad news is not shared and employees do not feel comfortable reporting incidents. a culture of secrecy prevents people discussing the very assumes that should be discussed: this means that learning does not take place
  8. Strong focus on individual results or a "get it done at all costs" attitude. Cutting corners and focusing on ends rather than means becomes embedded within the organisational culture
  9. High employee turnover rates by business unit, race, age, gender, function, etc. 
  10. Limited transparency on factors for promotion or success. it is impossible to know how people got into their positions, and there is no ability to challenge appointments.

It is easy to see from this list that these behaviours do not benefit the organisation. However it is surprising how many organisations behave in this way, or encourage this kind of tactics in order to "manage". They rule through fear, rather than positivity.

Stay positive. For each of these, do the opposite.


Sam

References:

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