My office culture has turned toxic. What can I do?
Thursday, September 6, 2007/
We are a small non-profit team of five and we’re sinking from a lack of leadership, lies, micro-management and bad communication. There’s no one we can turn to for help in resolving conflicts because it’s the boss that is the cause of many issues. Staff are getting stressed and burdened from having to listen to the worries and whinges of other staff and hold the fort as people resign.
Should I suggest getting in an HR consultant to help us through this bad patch? I don’t know where to turn to save our little organisation?
Stressed and Swamped,
Dear Stressed and Swamped,
My first response it to tell you to “getthehelloutofthere”. But obviously you are driven by a higher calling than us “For Profits”. So how do you deal with a toxic culture?
Obviously there is no shared focus on making a profit to keep everyone behaving and so the head of the firm is getting rewarded for creating chaos.
But an HR practitioner is not the answer. Just as a psychiatrist can only treat mental illness, an HR practitioner can only point out the obvious lack of cohesion and direction. Instead of looking outside the organisation for a magic problem solver, you should head for the pub or café and set a goal to be a self-managing team.
Set out the team’s own mission, goals and objectives and then stay on that track by rewarding the boss when he or she walks that path. Uncle C has a good suggestion: when the boss attempts attention-seeking behaviour, don’t buy into it.
Instead, starve them of attention and show your disapproval through work-to-rule. This should lower the internal turbulence and the stress will disappear. Also try and put some fun back into the organsiation so that people can see there are better ways to operate in a business than being addicted to drama.