Dec 12, 2017

Toxin Removal: How to Revive a Flagging Company Culture

Culture matters. Healthy cultures promote innovation and productivity. Toxic ones support turnover, disengaged employees, and stagnancy.

Is your office full of employees dragging themselves into work? Are more mistakes being made? Declining productivity? Unnecessary and/or unhealthy conflict? Something dangerous has taken root.

Fortunately, toxic cultures can be turned around. Here are some starting points: 

  • Remind how what employees do matters. Employees who are stuck in a rut can find it hard to see the importance of their jobs. Make an effort to share how their work matters. Share stories from clients. Share stories from co-workers.
  • Take time to recognize accomplishments. Encourage employees to keep track of their accomplishments and create a list of the best ones for circulation among team members. 
  • Commit time to innovation. Give employees a 24-hour period to work on something other than their current assignment to complete a small project that is somewhat related to work and have them present on it. Many companies have found their next product upgrade or process improvement through these opportunities. 
  • Train employees on positive attitudes. Take time to share inspiring stories to boost morale. Show videos of other companies who succeed at culture and challenge employees to do what they do. 
  • Rewrite job descriptions and policies with objective language. Take “fuzzies”  like “be a team player” out of job descriptions and processes and replace with specific, observable behaviors. This keeps employees and managers from needing to interpret what is expected. 
  • Lead by example. Employees take their cues from what they see, despite mission statements. Leaders who act out constructive values will encourage employees to do the same. 

What do you do to cultivate and maintain a positive culture? How have you transformed a toxic culture or cut it out before it took root?


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