Red-flag behaviours that contribute to a toxic culture

 Sep 20, 2018 9:00 AM

There are many reasons employees leave their places of employment, but organizations should be highly concerned when employees leave because of poor relationships or a lack of respect. According to a recent study by Randstad, 38% of workers want to leave their jobs due to a toxic work culture or one where they feel they don’t fit in. An even larger group (58%) have left jobs, or are considering leaving, because of negative office politics. And 60% have left jobs, or are considering leaving, because they don't like their direct supervisors.

Signs of a toxic work culture range from dishonesty, to competition amongst employees, to rampant gossip. But if there are any red-flag behaviours from leaders (including senior leaders, managers, directors, and supervisors) – organizations must act quickly. Left unattended, a toxic culture will be harder and harder to shift and will have a direct impact on the bottom line or affect an organization’s ability to deliver on their promises to stakeholders.

A positive work culture starts at the top. Last month, our blog focused on how to create a ‘safe’ culture and reinforced the need for leaders to be role models for respectful behaviour. Here are some examples of behaviours that are red-flags and should be addressed swiftly:

1: Devaluing (or ignoring) the contribution of others

2: Telling others what to do or ordering people around

3: Making others feel stupid or unintelligent

4: Blaming others for mistakes

5: Yelling; being emotionally volatile and unpredictable

6: Complaining about employees

7: Talking about others behind their backs, rather than speaking to people directly

8: Bullying

It takes courage and commitment to begin to change a toxic culture, including addressing red-flag behaviours. If you would like help in building a plan to shift your organization’s culture, please reach out to me.


Kathleen Redmond

P.S. If you haven’t yet seen it, please have a look at our new video about the Centre for Character Leadership's approach to building a 'character' culture, which encompasses both organizational culture and personal, authentic leadership.

Kathleen Redmond

Kathleen Redmond is the Founder of the Centre for Character Leadership. She is certified Master Certified Coach (International Coach Federation), an author and Adjunct Professor of the University of Guelph’s MA Leadership Program.



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