Neutralising Toxic Company Culture
“Don’t stay with your company if you’re not having fun”. Although Wolter Smit’s comment referred to engagement with workplace tasks, departmental responsibilities, etc. it has further applications that just that.
Glenn D. Rolfsen identified one of the most negative and toxic areas that ought to be addressed in the workplace is “backbiting”. He defined this idea as “talking negatively about a third person who is not present”. The idea in itself, when identified in such a manner often links with playground cattiness between schoolgirls. But, it happens just as easily in the workplace: have you ever heard your manager complain that they are closing with someone because they are X, Y or Z? That’s backbiting.
Rolfsen acknowledged that “when [he] backbite[s], [he has] got this feeling of elevating [himself], while talking other people down. In an additional bonus [he] seem[s] interesting because [he has] got some juicy information that you don’t have.”
Jay Wilkinson, in 2011, explained how he managed to hone his own workplace culture, acknowledging that he had to set out what he hoped to achieve with his company and actively act upon it, therefore, his company would not end up imitating the thoughts, beliefs and values of the most vocal member of the workforce. During his talk, he equally acknowledged the issues that derive from people in the workplace: the problem that “causes 95% of all the problems in every company every one of the companies that we work for, these people are high level performers but they don’t live the values of our company; they’re like a cancer, eating away at the culture of our business”. Although somewhat harsh, by referring to someone who clashes with you as cancerous, the point does make sense.
Later in his own video, Rolfsen elaborated, bluntly that “this is how we as adults are bullying each other”. Now, bullying certainly comes across as cancerous, toxic, negatively in the workplace.
Nobody wants to be bullied, many of us have been on the other end of the malice. And of course, escaping an environment where you feel like you are being treated in this way, is equally as complicated as an adult as it is during your school days, but, if your finances were not in jeopardy, you would leave, right? Who wouldn’t!
The problem is, that the nature of the workplace means that without set values in the foundations of an organisation, the weeds of backbiting can worm their way through the cracks and ruin your experience in a company.
A great way to battle this, is by what Rolfsen suggested, by having departments pledge not to backbite in a new “scheme” which would now be called Gossip 2021, and create an environment where discussions can take place to further enrich the workplace. After all, communication among employees and transparency within the workplace is essential to implementing the agile practice which could pave the way to success within your field. You can’t hope to sail to the end of the earth in a dingy and come out in one piece at the end.
Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.
He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.
The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.
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