After over 20 years of working, I’ve learned that some companies slowly implode… maybe not implode but will not achieve their full potential due to leaders who are short sided in what determines success. When companies only use the bottom line to determine success, they will always miss the telltale signs of a toxic work environment. Leaders in these organizations see the loss of top performers as unavoidable when, there are changes that could be made to encourage them to stay. The company spends so much time building their external customer service strategy that they fail at developing their most important internal strategy - internal customer service. Your employees are your top resources. When you allow a toxic culture to exist you risk losing the future leadership of your company.
I’ve seen this occur in privately held companies that are passed down from one generation to the next. Many times, the new generation of leadership is riding on the coattails of the older generation and have no idea what it took to build the company. To make matters worse, they were not properly prepared to take over and are clueless of what it will take to maintain let alone grow the company.
Often their ego is fragile and is intimidated by the new kid on the block that’s blowing it out of the water. Instead of nurturing this talent they alienate them by not being supportive and often create obstacles to block them from succeeding. Ultimately, this leader will see the future of their company walk out the door and take the growth with them. All the time blaming those who’ve left for the fact that the company is struggling.
In contrast, you may have a leader who’s been very successful in a corporation where the profits are rolling in consistently. When the leader looks at the bottom line, they decide they want to increase their profits by making changes to employee compensation, specifically those on straight commission. They will change the commission structure to keep more of the profits at the detriment of their top salespeople. Instead of focusing on how to attract new customers, the leader decides to take from the people who helped them be successful in the first place. This type of growth allows the company’s bottom line to grow artificially. The crazy thing is that these leaders are shocked when their top performers leave and find success elsewhere.
These companies appear successful from the outside but on the inside, the company is not functioning at its full potential. The company is bleeding internally, and no one even realizes it. The turnover of top talent is discussed, but it’s dismissed as just one of those things that happen in business today. The reality is that the company culture is toxic and causes them to lose their best and brightest. When leaders allow a toxic culture to continue it will begin to affect their ability to be successful.
If the symptoms go unchecked, the company is at risk of losing all it has built. So how do you correct it? So how do you know when this is a real issue within your company?
Here are 4 key strategies that will help you cultivate a non-toxic work environment:
Maintain an open line of communication.
Employees must know that their voice matters to leadership. This will ensure your team feels valued and appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the table. Engaged employees bring new ideas and innovation that will help the company grow.
Create opportunities for training and development for everyone on your team.
Take the time to get to your employees and what their goals are personally and professionally. Take an active role by providing the opportunities for their growth through formal and informal training opportunities.
Build a relationship with your team grounded in trust.
Operating in integrity will build a loyal team. When your employees know that your word is good then they will be committed to working hard each day. No one wants to work for someone that operates dishonestly and constantly says one thing and does another. This makes employees uncomfortable and more likely to leave the company.
Encourage your team to work together to accomplish goals.
Healthy competition is still productive. It’s truly counterproductive to pit your employees against each other. When your team is a collaborative environment, they will share effective techniques and improve productivity and sales.
There are many more ways to create a non-toxic environment for your team. I will continue to share techniques and strategies that you can implement to improve your team’s performance for the long term. Be proactive and stop the internal bleeding that you didn’t realize was there. Stay tuned for more discussion about improving your work environment!!
Contact me with any feedback and/or suggestions for this blog (Hello@TracieLJames.com). I look forward to hearing from you.