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Transforming a Toxic Work Culture

Few things can hinder success of an organization more than a toxic work culture. Negative attitudes, interpersonal conflict, and stress can lower the performance of the whole team. Companies often have a few negative members who weigh down the entire team, which speaks to how damaging toxicity can be. However, with strong leadership, you can transform a toxic work culture back into a healthy one.

Acknowledge Toxic Behavior

One reason toxic behavior has the tendency to pervade the entire work culture is that leaders take too long to address the behavior because they want to avoid conflict, or they don’t realize the impact one person can have on team dynamics before it’s too late. It is imperative that leadership call out toxic behavior immediately, so team members can identify the unproductive behaviors they might be unaware of. It is also important to discipline consistently. Employees need to know that toxic behavior will not be tolerated.

Encourage Positive Actions

On the flip side, it is essential to also identify what behaviors and attitudes you do value as an organization and encourage your team members to embrace those characteristics, such as collaboration, humility, and respect. This is how building a positive work culture starts. If everyone treats others with compassion, acts ethically, works together to solve problems, and maintains an optimistic attitude, you can create a work environment that is both productive and enjoyable.

Be Supportive

It takes time to heal from the effects of working in a toxic culture. Employees may have had to deal with unnecessary anxiety, bullying, feelings of inadequacy, and other challenges. It’s not enough to get rid of toxic behaviors in the workplace. You also have to build your team members back up. If employees know they have the support of management and that work culture is a top priority, they can start to feel comfortable in their jobs again.

Use Training and Team Building Exercises

Training and team building exercises can be used to reinforce positive behaviors in the workplace. You can use training activities to show employees how to communicate respectfully with one another and how to deal with conflict in a healthy manner. Team building activities can help rebuild trust between team members and encourage cooperation.

Having a toxic culture will always keep an organization from performing at its best. If employees dread coming to work every day, they aren’t going to be as productive or engaged as they need to be to maximize their potential. Companies can transform toxic cultures into positive ones by firmly addressing negative behaviors, identifying, demonstrating, and encouraging positive behaviors, and creating a supportive work environment.


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