Toxic Work Environments


A big part of the managers who reached out to us for support, and had worked for two or more different companies stated that working for those (different) companies was the same for them. This was interesting as these companies were sometimes in different industries, or in different countries, or with many other differences between them, so when we dived deeper we found out that for the professional, having worked for the two different companies was the SAME just because they felt SIMILARLY bad. This is not very helpful, because, in the case of complex organizations, One Size Fits All doesn’t apply, and different Negative Work environments don’t have the same root causes. Not to mention that even for two cases with the same Root cause, there are very few chances that the required solution will be the same. This doesn’t mean that the Solution has to be a complex one, No, it just means that a good Diagnosis is paramount.

So, first of all, when evaluating and diagnosing a Negative Work environment, we need to understand that there are several ways in which an environment can be NEGATIVE or TOXIC, and I have captured some of them in the video below (2 minutes from one of our Courses on Negative Work environments).

After we understand which way the Work Environment is Negative or Toxic, it is good to assess whether it is also dysfunctional, and in which way this negativity affects the results. (I understand that this statement might raise questions, so go ahead and ask the question(s). )

Further, we evaluate the root causes for the dysfunctionality, and in this step, by far, the biggest mistake some change agents make, is listing down all the possible things that might affect negatively that particular state of affairs and then handing over the TODO plan to the middle management to implement it on top of their other ToDo lists. This is wrong because it is overwhelming, and it will only raise a wall between the middle management and the top management. No organization has enough resources to take that approach, so you need an expert who can FOCUS you on the MOST Important thing to solve while highlighting the low-hanging fruits and the things that will require relatively little intervention, little energy, and little adjustment but will deliver great improvements, and will have set the organization on a positive improvement spiral.

The change agents that are familiar with how Group Behavior works and the science of System Theory, know that the very complex System called “Organization”, has a great capacity to heal on its own, once you have correctly identified the root cause of the pain, removed it, and set the Organization on its way to heal. (With this metaphor, I’m not advocating for unwise delegation, unwise leadership expectations, or laissez-faire management. Leadership is an essential factor in the healing of an organization and it requires a focused presence.)

Remember, the fact that an Organization is a very complex system doesn’t mean that “fixing” it should be very complicated. The fact that an Organization is such a complex system means that it has the capacity to “heal” itself faster than an individual, IF and ONLY IF we understand how GROUP BEHAVIOR works, what is the main blockage currently, and how to remove that blockage in the most natural and efficient manner for the group.

If you feel your Organization might have a slightly more Negative (or Toxic) Work Environment reach out and do a Reliable Diagnosis with us.


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