Toxic work environments… we’ve all witnessed it, and it isn’t pretty for productivity. The deep rumblings of negativity start stirring, and before we know it, the entire office has a new tone to it that isn’t necessarily positive. Whether it stems from an employee who feels undervalued or a conflict between two coworkers with conflicting personalities, we’re talking about toxicity in the workplace. In a recent article by Michael Fertik titled, “Get Ruthless with Workplace Toxicity,” Fertik addresses the ugly truth about how quickly these negative emotions can spread across a team like wildfire. He explores, “how fast it wilts productivity, erodes morale, instills doubt in employees, and (in some cases) pressures leadership into making questionable decisions.” So what can we do to safeguard ourselves and our teams from the negativity? Here are three great tips to combat toxicity in the workplace:
1. Invest time and energy in building loyalty. When personal bonds and connections are formed between employees and employers, a level of trust is established. Whether the team building activities consist of formal events or chats over a beer at happy hour, it’s critical that these engagements happen. In our experiences facilitating group drumming sessions, we find that the easiest way to build rapport among your team is to remove them from their daily routine and get them on the same page. Drumming is outside of many peoples’ comfort zones when we first encounter them, yet it unites, aligns, uplifts and inspires them to forge deeper connections with one another and with the core values of their organization.
2. Take time to communicate. Communication is critical in preventing and remedying workplace toxicity. At the first sign of gossip or a snippy comment, it’s important to nip it in the bud. When a positive rapport is established among coworkers, it’s often easier for them to speak up and have an open, honest, and non-confrontational conversation about the situation with one another. Often times that can be enough to right the wheel. If the situation is more serious, investing in an in-depth team building program can be an effective way to change the tone of communication and help your team see eye to eye.
3. Have fun! A workplace without fun is a prime target for toxicity to rear its ugly head. People need to blow off steam—it’s a basic instinct of human nature. Take time to celebrate successes, expansions, jobs well done, and the awesome corporate culture you have created!
By being proactive, you’ll be able to keep most of the toxic negativity at bay. We can’t always keep everyone happy, but we can certainly do everything in our power to promote positivity. It’s infectious.