Four signs of a toxic culture
It doesn't take long to discover when a company has a failed culture and has become toxic. While companies fail for a variety of reasons - Enron, for example, failed thanks to a lack of accountability - all of them have several actions in common.
What are the company's values?
Most companies' bottom line is profit but how do they treat their employees and clients? I've been in a situation where I've had to ask for a job description after I suspected that my job changed on me without being consulted.
When you start a new job, are you provided with the tools to make your first day, week and month a success? Does your direct manager work with you to ensure you're prepared for the new job? Do you have access to him/her should you need help?
Can everyone speak their mind?
We've all had to attend at least one town hall where we spend three hours listening to directors, vice-presidents, presidents and CEOs tell us how last year's results and the grand plan for the next year. This is good as everyone knows what's going on but if the communication is one-sided - from the top down - then the culture is not positive.
It's important that feedback operates in all directions - up, down and sideways. If employees are not allowed an opportunity to be heard, they feel disempowered and detached from their job. This leads to resentment and a poisonous atmosphere.
A lack of transparency and safety
A company needs to be transparent about its corporate decisions including its business plans. It must also be transparent about its morals and how it treats its employees.
While being transparent may not always create a positive atmosphere - layoffs being an example - it does create an atmosphere of trust in the company.
A good manager is hard to find and weak leadership is the fastest way to a poor culture. People follow managers, rating a good manager as a reason why they stay at jobs (often beating out money). If a leader is out of tune with his/her employees and clients, then companies experience a high people turnover as employees flee the company like rats abandoning a sinking ship.
There are many signs of a failed corporate culture but these four points tend to be common in nearly all companies.
Category: Career dilemmas, Life @ work