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Dissecting toxic work cultures

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HC Online | 23 Jan 2014, 08:42 AM Agree 0
Shifting blame and punishing innovation. A toxic culture may be lurking in your office that you aren't even aware of. Here's the perfect way to detox your staff.
  • Jacqui | 23 Jan 2014, 01:53 PM Agree 0
    I just escaped from a toxic team one month ago, and moved into another part of the same organisation. I was seriously making efforts to leave the company, as internal networking and interviews yielded no success.

    The toxic culture became so thick from the individuals, that it was not the work that became unenjoyable that led me to move, simply the relationships and environment in which I performed my work. Little help was provided from HR also, as one HR rep often told me that I was not competent enough to be handed the 2IC role, regardless of the fact that I performed all of the work tasks that are applicable to the role (besides leading the team in the managers absence). It seemed her sole objective to bring me down.

    The toxicity came from attitudes from HR, the manager, Senior manager, as well as colleagues. From the attitudes of my colleagues, I soon found that they saw it unacceptable that I wanted to be away from my desk for any length of time (whether it be a toilet break, out for lunch, visit work peers at alternative sites, offsite networking meetings, etc). I truly felt chained to my desk, and yet had no-one that was willing to learn my work as a backup in my absence (lack of colleague initiative and well as lacking support from management). Many more items made the environment hard to put up with however.

    I'm very thankful I have been given a second chance within another part of the organisation, as I have come to realise just how unpleasant it was and how unsatisfactory the behaviours were. I'm certainly in a good place now.
  • Bernie Althofer | 24 Jan 2014, 01:15 PM Agree 0
    I suspect that in work units such as that identified by Jacqui, the ability for an individual to be able to move will allow that person to become more productive. Unfortunately, not all people are able to move within an organisation as has been highlighted in other similar discussions.

    I believe the onus is on the organisation to conduct a risk assessment using the above situation to identify those hazards that have contributed to this situation. There is a risk that others will be similarly exposed.

    It would be an interesting situation for the organisation, their officers and workers if they were required to attend at a Court, Commission or Tribunal to justify their actions or inaction having been made aware of the health and safety risks.

    It might be the case that some organisations act under the mistaken belief that once the target moves on, the problem is solved. Unfortunately, unless the hazards are identified, the risks recorded, the level of risk exposure analysed, controls reviewed and enhanced, then there is even chance another person will experience the same behaviours and be forced to move on.
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