Toxic cultures don’t happen overnight. 
It’s not the one-off action or mistake that defines a culture – it’s the way leaders and managers handle the chain of seemingly insignificant, trivial, day to day, little incidents that tell employees how things are really done around here. 
Here are 7 signs your organisation could be developing a toxic culture. How many seem familiar to you? 
1. Managers believe “everyone’s doing ok”, so they don’t need to bother to monitor individual performance or development needs, or have regular 121 meetings with their team members. What would be the point?  
And because the manager is telling anyone who’ll listen that everything’s fine, no-one will dare to bring problems to the manager. So they get hidden. People don’t speak their minds. And so things that could have been nipped in the bud are allowed to flourish unhindered. 
2. People feel ignored. Their managers are far too busy to talk to people every day, to thank them for doing a good job or to ask what support they need.  
Employees are left wondering what they have to do to get noticed. If doing the right thing doesn’t work, perhaps doing the wrong thing, or doing nothing at all will get management’s attention? 
3. When team members complain about toxic colleagues, the manager refuses to either believe them or to act. Mainly because the objectionable employee is exceeding their targets and the organisation believes it can’t risk losing them.  
So people either start behaving like the toxic team member because that behaviour is clearly OK with their manager and the organisation, or they vote with their feet and find an employer who values people who do the right thing. 
4. Team briefings are seen as a waste of time. If they take place at all, briefings are delivered by rote, as quickly as possible, with the requisite signatures duly gained according to the health and safety policy.  
No-one bothers to check if the workers understand what they are meant to do and how to do it safely. Until someone has an accident, of course, and the organisation looks for someone to blame. Three guesses who they’ll look at first. 
5. When complaints do reach senior management, they are “resolved” with a stock reply that doesn’t really address the issue. A politician’s answer, if you like.  
People know when they are being fobbed off. And they never like it. It makes them start wondering what else the organisation is ignoring or hiding. 
6. Training budgets and time for training are cut back to the absolute minimum for the organisation to stay within the law. Training that does take place is largely seen by employees as a waste of time because they’ve heard it all before.  
People begin to realise that the organisation doesn’t value them, or doesn’t truly care about how they perform. With a record number of vacancies in the UK at the moment, it’s pretty easy to find an employer who will invest in developing their skills, so the brightest and best, and the most ambitious, will do exactly that. 
7. Everyone knows who the poor performers are in any team. And when it becomes clear that managers aren’t interested in dealing with underperformance, the consistently good performers have to work that bit harder – for no extra reward or recognition. Until they too find another role in an organisation that manages performance fairly. 
Help – I’ve got a toxic culture 
The actions you take as a manager will tell your team what you value, and which rules matter to you. Equally, the processes you don’t follow, and the rules you don’t uphold, will send a clear message to your team that these things don’t matter for them either. 
Your team – and the culture within your team - are a direct reflection of the way you have managed them. 
If you want a better team, and a better workplace culture, then you have to be managing the issues that really matter in the right way. Regularly and consistently. 
That’s how great cultures are built. 
If you look at your team and recognise any of the signs here, but don’t know how to put things right, this is exactly how I can help you. Not only will I pinpoint for you exactly why and where things have gone wrong, but I'll also coach you how to put them right, and get your team working exactly the way you want them to work. Give me a call and let’s talk. 
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