Is Your Company Toxic?

Unfortunately, for the majority of organizations across the globe, the answer is “YES”.   According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report, only 13% of employees are engaged at work.  That leaves 87% disengaged – which means many will only do the bare minimum to keep their job and collect a paycheck.  Does this resonate with you?


  • Do your employees connect with your organization's vision and values?  And are they driving decision making?
  • Is your workplace positive and engaging?
  • Do you authentically value, recognize and reward your employees for the good work that they do?   
  • What do your customers say about your business?  
  • What is your online reputation?  

If you have more negative responses, your customer experience is not so hot and your reputation precedes you (in not such a positive way), then today is your lucky day.   Make this your new beginning!

Over the past 10 years substantial research has shown that companies with a winning culture are more productive and more profitable than those with a toxic culture.  A winning culture positively impacts all business metrics. (No Surprise!)  

300% more innovation
44% higher retention
37% increase in sales
43% increase in productivity
125% less burnout
66% fewer sick leaves
51% less turnover
48% fewer safety incidents
41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
(Than companies without a winning culture - Sources: HBR, Gallup, Hay Group, Forbes)

There are many things that you can do to create a winning culture, but here are 3 Priorities that are essential to create an extraordinary workplace.

1.    Clearly Define Organization Vision and Values

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – Howard Schultz, Chairman/CEO Starbucks

The organization must have a clear vision and set of values that define you and drives decision making.  This is the “WHY” of the organization, its heart and soul.

When you create a team around a shared vision and values, everyone understands their role in making the organization succeed.   Organizational goals are set and cascaded down to team goals and then personal goals.  This creates engagement.  Everyone can see how their work contributes to the success of the organization.  

Core values benefit employees, customers, partners and the community.  They also set your company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees.

Make no mistake, living by stated corporate values isn’t always easy.  After all, it’s much harder to be clear and unapologetic for what you stand for than to cave in to politically correct pressure. And for organizations trying to repair the damage caused by previous initiatives that were less than optimal, the work is even harder.  But if you are willing to devote your time and energy to creating a winning culture, you, your employees and your organization will reap greater rewards than you could ever imagine.

Quick Tips:
A. Define YOUR organization's vision and core values
    This is an exciting and important activity.  Give it the time and energy it deserves.  Pull a small team together, CEO, founders, others who exemplify the values you want the org to represent to do most of the heavy lifting.  It is important to include the full staff, but this is NOT a democratically made decision.  The reality may be that there are many people who do not live your core values in the organization and taking in broad input will dilute your vision. 

B.  Integrate your core values in all you do
    An organization that truly believes in living its values will make all decisions based on these values.  Having a set of values that lives only in a frame on your wall or on your website does nothing for your organization.  

How Do You Actually Do This? 
Let's say one of your values is "Open Communication". One of the actions aligned with the value might be: "Everyone in the organization, independent of position or title, is encouraged to provide feedback on anything they see that doesn't work along with a better solution suggested."   This input is acknowledged, reviewed and action is taken.

2.     Trust

“He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.”– Lao Tzu

This is the biggie.  This is a major difference between organizations that thrive and those that merely survive.  You can't have a winning culture if leadership doesn't trust their employees and vice versa.  And you can't fake this one.

I've been in so many organizations where I feel like I'm sitting in a war zone.  Its US vs.THEM.

Employees share:
-  The leadership doesn't care about us.
-  They don't listen to our suggestions.
-  They have no idea what's going on “on the ground”.
-  They make decisions in their best interest and don't care about ours.

Leadership shares:
-  Our staff is lazy.   The do the bare minimum to get the job done.
-  They never take initiative to do anything without being told.
-  We have a high level of absenteeism.
-  Tasks are not completed in a timely manner.
-  We get constant complaints about our customer experience.  

And the truth is both sides may very well be correct.

But the reality is that in an environment like this, something significant needs to change.  And this change can only START at the top.   The leadership always “sets the tone” for change and YOU as the leader need to make the first move.  And sometimes the second, third, and fourth.

This takes time, but is very much worth the effort.

Quick Tips:  

A.    Involve people in decisions that directly affect them. When people are involved in a decision, even if they don't make the final call, they are more likely to support the decision. This means bringing people in before you've made the decision.

B.     Be transparent and consistent in your actions. We tend to focus on outcomes and ignore the process. Understanding how a decision was made, and the thought process behind that decision, can have a huge impact on how people feel about the decision.

C.      Trust is built through relationships.  Connect with your team in a genuine way.  Get to know staff at all different levels and really listen to what they have to say.  They are here to help grow your business, if you don't value their work or their opinion, they shouldn't be there.

3.     Communication

"The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel and misrepresentation."       C. Northcote Parkinson, British Naval Historian

Communication is key.  The key to what?  EVERYTHING!

Most of us have run into issues stemming from poor communication, either at work or in our personal life.   

No one is a mind reader.  I do not know what you are thinking until you tell me.    We all need to communicate.  Clearly.  And its not only what you say but how you say it.  Many people forget this.

When there is consistent communication and employees feel like there are kept in the loop, they build a sense of accountability and are willing to go the extra mile.  This is directly correlated with achieving better business results.

However, very few of us are well trained across all areas of communication.   Having these skills is not something you are born with.  They must be learned and developed.   

Quick Tips:

A.  Share information consistently and honestly.  Inconsistent information sharing makes people feel that by emitting information, you are trying to hide something.  They will fill in the gaps and this leads to a wild “grapevine” or crazy water cooler conversations.

Its also easy to read through information that is disingenuous.      Stop the grapevine before it starts.   Create a comprehensive communication plan that reaches each of your stakeholder groups the best way possible and allows for information sharing both ways. 

Also, help everyone become a better communicator.  Offer training and workshops – either in person, online or at a brown bag lunch session to share communication tips and techniques.  This will help everyone in the office as well as in their personal life.

B.  Share your ideas in a way which also speaks to your emotions and your aspirations. If your message doesn’t take deep root with your audience then it likely won’t be understood, much less championed.

C.  Develop a heightened level of emotional intelligence. The best communicators are great listeners and astute in their observations. Great communicators are skilled at reading a person/group by sensing the moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns of those being communicated with. Not only do they read their environment well, but they possess the uncanny ability to adapt their messaging to said environment without missing a beat. The message is not about the messenger; it has nothing to do with messenger; it is however 100% about meeting the needs and the expectations of those you’re communicating with.

Moving from a toxic to a winning culture is not easy, but is extremely satisfying once you have made the shift.  

Ignite has supported many organizations to turn this corner and their productivity and profits surged above what they could have imaged just 5 years earlier.

Everyone deserves Happiness at Work.  Let Ignite help you get there.

If you have topics you are interested in us discussing, drop us a note and share your thoughts.