Every organisation wants to encourage positive workplace behaviours. However, a dysfunctional workplace leads to toxic attitudes that can ruin work for everybody.
As a leader, one of your main goals is building a positive business culture.
A good organisational culture inspires employees. It gives them a reason to push towards the organisation’s goals and ensures they’re happy to enter the workplace each day.
Yet, over half of Australians aren’t happy in the workplace.
Clearly, there’s something wrong. Business culture problems sap morale, leading to unmotivated employees who don’t produce results.
Often, these problems stem from a toxic culture in the workplace.
Toxic cultures often grow over time. They result from allowing little employee behaviours slide until they become major problems. It’s like a snowball effect. One toxic behaviour leads to another until you have a toxic culture in the workplace.
So, how do you recognise the signs of a developing toxic culture? These are the eight attitudes to watch out for.
Toxic Attitude #1 – Constant Lateness
It seems like the most basic rule in any organisation. Employees show up at a set time, work for a set time, and then go home.
However, lateness is a major issue in many organisations. In fact, 40% of Australians start their shifts late.
This has an obvious impact on productivity. Lateness delays work and costs the organisation money.
But it also has an impact on the business culture. It damages employee morale to see somebody constantly turning up late. This doubles if there aren’t any ramifications. Allowing lateness also allows for the development of a “whatever” culture. After all, if you don’t care about lateness, why should employees make the effort to turn up on time?
Taking a passive attitude to lateness creates a foundation for other toxic attitudes. Nip it in the bud. Ensure employees who turn up late face consequences. Take immediate action and have a performance conversation whenever someone makes coming in late a habit. This forces the employee to buck up, while also showing others that you care.
Toxic Attitude #2 – Narcissism
Many business culture problems stem from a “me first” attitude. Narcissism can affect your organisation at every level.
For example, a narcissistic manager will always look to protect themselves. That means refusing to take accountability for their actions. Most also try to pass the buck constantly. Narcissism at the top of an organisation prevents collaboration. Teams don’t cooperate because they’re focused on pleasing the narcissistic manager.The organisation suffers as a result.
Of course, narcissism can also affect a company lower down the chain. Arrogant and self-absorbed employees don’t make good team members. They refuse to listen to new ideas and assume that they’re always right.
Here’s how this creates a toxic culture in the workplace. Other employees feel stifled when dealing with narcissism. They feel as though their ideas don’t get heard. Eventually, morale dips to the point that they don’t contribute ideas at all.
This hurts your company because you need new ideas to prevent stagnation.
Encourage communication to avoid the development of a narcissistic business culture. Individual successes are important. But achieving the organisation’s goals takes priority.
Toxic Attitude #3 – Taking No Initiative
In an ideal workplace, employees understand their responsibilities. Furthermore, they have the confidence and freedom to take initiative. If they have good ideas, they discuss them and take action.
Then there are those who avoid taking action. Such employees aren’t the easiest to spot because they always talk about what the organisation could do better. They’re the first to advise others on how to do their jobs. Often, they present themselves as experts in the subject, regardless of their experience levels.
However, they don’t produce results. Instead of recognising issues and solving them, they just point out the problems. They have an attitude where they assume somebody else can handle it.
This employee is not working for the betterment of the organisation. Instead, they’re just talking a lot without getting anything done.
When confronted with such employees, push them to take things further. Ask them how they’d solve the issue, then make them responsible for implementing the solution. Not only does this show your confidence in the employee, but it also means they’ll have to produce results.
Toxic Attitude #4 – Unresponsiveness
Unresponsiveness has become more of an issue since the introduction of email. Instead of speaking directly to a colleague or employee, you send an email. You have no idea if the recipient read it, and you’re waiting on them to provide a response in their own time.
That’s the problem. Some people don’t respond to emails in good time. Others don’t respond at all.
Here’s how this creates business culture problems. When people don’t respond to emails, they’re implying that the conversation doesn’t matter. Whatever they’re doing is more important than whatever is in the email. You could combine this with the narcissistic attitude mentioned above.
This doesn’t just mean the unresponsive person thinks the sender doesn’t matter. It also implies that they think the organisation doesn’t matter. After all, most people send emails because they need answers to questions. One unresponsive person could slow down entire departments.
Workflow improves if everybody responds to emails quickly. If you have employees that avoid email, talk to them directly. Emphasise the importance of responsiveness to an efficient and productive workplace.
Toxic Attitude #5 – Disorganisation
Every workplace needs its own set of rules and standards. They govern how employees should act and work. When employees follow the rules, you create positive workplace behaviours.
Disorganisation shows a disregard for these rules and the overall workplace culture. It highlights a lack of discipline, which can quickly spread throughout the workplace. One person’s lack of organisation reflects on everybody. Projects experience delays and workflow slows down. In short, disorganisation leads to poorer results. Over time, it creates a toxic culture in the workplace.
Disorganisation could be as simple as an untidy desk. Or, it could be as major as an employee having no idea what figures to present during a meeting. Whatever the case may be, it leads to business culture problems. Disorganised individuals display a lack of focus. This means they can’t come up with new ideas because they don’t know where the problems lie. They also can’t help others in their teams because they’re struggling to stay on top of their own work.
Disorganisation often stems from employees not receiving clear expectations. If they don’t know what they need to produce, they can’t organise their workflows. Make sure every employee knows their purpose, and what you expect them to produce.
Toxic Attitude #6 – Passive Aggression
No matter how much effort you put into building a positive workplace culture, conflicts will arise. People may have different ideas on how to do things, or their personalities simply don’t gel.
Unfortunately, failure to confront these issues leads to passive aggression in the workplace. Passive aggressive people create gossip. You’ll find them badmouthing colleagues to others, which creates divisions. If a passive aggressive person gains influence, they foster a toxic culture in the workplace.
This is a difficult attitude to confront because of its passive nature. You can spot directly aggressive people because they don’t hide their feelings. The passive aggressive rumblings take place in the shadows. They result in rumours and general dissent that you can’t quite nail down.
Create strong communication channels to solve passive aggression. Often, a good human resources department can help. However, great managers also go out of their way to solve conflicts before they become major problems.
Toxic Attitude #7 – Inappropriate Humour
There’s nothing wrong with humour in the workplace. In fact, humour is a great connector. It allows employees to form personal bonds, which enhances their ability to cooperate. These bonds lead to high-performing teams, which is how you get results.
Unfortunately, inappropriate humour can ruin these bonds. Your organisation is still a place of work. A laugh and a joke helps things move along, but then there are the people who revel in saying the wrong thing.
Inappropriateness comes in several guises. Somebody may dress up lewd comments to others as a form of humour. Or, an employee may mock somebody else in the company. Both lead to the subject of this “humour” having to deal with whatever negative stigma the “joke” creates.
If allowed to continue, inappropriate humour saps morale. Those subjected to it see that there’s nobody defending them from it. As a result, they stop caring about their workplace. This creates more business culture problems, as now you have to deal with the poor results that stem from low morale.
Toxic Attitude #8 – Ineffective Meetings
Not every meeting is going to set the world alight. Sometimes, meetings are little more than people coming together to talk about key metrics. It’s understandable that such subjects aren’t the most inspiring in the world.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.
Some employees have a habit of not paying attention during meetings. Unless the subject of conversation involves them, they drift away. You may see that glazed look in their eyes. At worst, they may actively disrespect the meeting by checking their phone or using their body language to convey boredom.
This creates a toxic culture in the workplace because everyone in the meeting can see it. It creates the attitude that meetings aren’t important.
Organisations hold meetings because they need to get messages across. They also want feedback from employees. When employees don’t actively engage in the meeting, their presence defeats the meeting’s purpose.
The Final Word
Think of each of these toxic attitudes as seeds. If allowed to sprout, they result in business culture problems. These behaviours influence how others act too. Too many toxic behaviours mean poor results and low morale.
Remember that being a great manager is all about results, and you can only get results through people. If you allow toxic people to affect the workplace, you can’t get the best results.
Here’s how you tackle toxic behaviours:
- Enforce the organisation’s rules
- Confront those who demonstrate these behaviours directly
- Show employees that there are consequences to engaging in toxic workplace behaviours.
Remember that a great manager can DOUBLE the capacity of their people.
Register for our next webinar to learn more about engaging your employees.