I was recently an inspirational speaker for a life insurance conference where the other guest speaker led a round table discussion about the characteristics of an unhealthy organizations. The overall consensus was that in toxic organizations dysfunction is tolerated.
Leadership sets the tone for the working environment. Destructive behaviors don't occur in a vaccum; they may even become overtly toxic, yet remain an accepted part of the organizational climate because we learn to tolerate them.
It is important to remember two truths about unacceptable behaviors:
-Distructive behaviors internally fragment an organization and diminish morale.
-Continual emotional abuse triggers self protective reactions that affect employee wellbeing.
Some of the Signs of an Unhealthy Organization from the guest speaker's round table summary for the life insurance event:
- Insensitivity to others
- Bullying, harrassment
- Distant, aloof or arrogant behavior
- Condescending and belittling others
- Leadership failing to address unacceptable behavior
- Unreliable employees and lack of committment
- Retaliation or manipulation
Leaders who don't provide feedback, who ignore disruptive behavior or fail to stand up for employees will encourage toxic work patterns to take hold. Leaders who pay attention, educate, have clear expectations and hold people accountable for their behaviors will thrive.
See our other post... Inspirational speaker for the insurance conference Rules for a Proper Handshake.