In my new book, The Arsonist in the Office , I talk about 20 different traits that will help you wonder what you’ve stepped into in a new or existing job. In recent blogs, I’ve covered 1-10. Here are five more that might sound familiar…
11. The “walking dead” roam the hallways. The less powerful and out of favor become intentionally nameless and faceless to their managers.
On #11, if you know about toxic cultures, you likely know that there is the ‘in crowd’ and the ‘out crowd’. Those who play along with a bad brand of office politics are accepted and those who are not comfortable with the culture are often ostracized.
12. Those affected by policies are often the last to know about changes to them.
On #12, it should be no surprise that effective communication is one of the first things to die in a toxic culture. Not only are the tools of communication compromised, but the reliability of the information communication is bad too.
13. Control masquerades as management. “Under my Thumb” by the Rolling Stones plays softly in the background.
On #13, what should be cooperation becomes the management style of dictatorships.
14. Employee feedback is ignored or shunned. Whether it’s due to egos, distrust, or a complete lack of understanding of rank-and-file employees, employees are conditioned to only labor, not be part of a team.
On #14, the best ideas in some companies come from employees. They deal with an organization’s challenges every day and are often the best ones to solve them. But not in a toxic, top-down-only environment that does not want feedback.
15. Gossip is in; dialogue’s out. The cultural destroyers in the organization are free to say whatever they want without recrimination. But here is the strange thing. Sometimes, depending on how bad the culture is and who is driving the toxicity, gossip may actually be more accurate than the official company line.
On #15, gossip runs rampant. Sometimes gossip is a factor of having busybodies on the payroll who like to stir up trouble. In other instances, gossip becomes the smoke signals of an organization. In a highly toxic environment, little real information flows willingly, so gossip becomes the channel for facts. It’s embarrassing and corrosive, but it’s also inevitable.
What do you think? I welcome your opinions!