Toxic Tolerance?

Once upon a time individual employees quit bad bosses.  Attentive leaders could notice a trend, identify the problem (i.e., the bad boss) and make decisions: coach, train, transfer (!), threaten, discipline, ignore, etc.  Of course some of these decisions led to better outcomes than others in terms of managing employee turnover and the impact of a bad boss.


Recent research tells us those bygone days may be over.  In our modern era, individual employees quit bad organizations:  whole companies with negative cultures see good employees leave.


Turnover is no longer dependent upon individual bosses who treat employees poorly.  Turnover is about what the organization – and individuals throughout the organization – do to demonstrate and support the culture described in the employee handbook or in ads directed at customers.


Answer quickly:

Can you easily match the ads you hear and see about your own organization with the behaviors demonstrated by and toward employees all around you each business day?  Is that match strongly positive?  In other words, do individuals throughout your organization ‘walk the talk?’


One key issue to consider: are there talented and productive – yet negative and toxic – individuals in your work teams?  What have you done to address the problem so that talented and productive – positive and thriving – individuals are willing to stay?


If you need additional convincing that toxicity in the workplace is more than an interpersonal conflict to be ignored or avoided, the Harvard Business School’s Toxic Workers study concluded that avoiding a toxic employee can save a company more than twice as much as the revenue bringing on a star performer can add.


It isn’t ‘just’ your Culture that suffers from toxic workplace behaviors.  It’s your bottom line.  Now is as good a time as any to:

  • Affirm your desired workplace Culture.
  • Assure every employee knows what that Culture looks like in everyday workplace actions.
  • Actively reinforce your expectations throughout the organization. No one is above Cultural workplace expectations, and everyone will be held accountable to them.
  • Announce, as you make changes in support of your desired Culture, showing that expectations are real and mean business.