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Changing Toxic Cultures

February 21, 2022 by Twan van de Kerkhof

Toxic cultures drive out employees who are confronted with unacceptable behavior. That is why leaders need to reward the behavior they want to see in their organizations and punish the behavior that needs to disappear.

Influencing the culture of an organization is a slow and tedious job. An organizational culture is composed by the sum of all behaviors in the past and present. All those individual acts have been rewarded, punished, commented on, silenced, until the present culture resulted in which all managers and employees have explicit or implicit assumptions about the do’s and don’ts during working hours and in their spare time, and which behaviors are cheered on, tolerated or rejected. This culture is a living organism that is nourished by statements, conversations and behavior of leaders.

Employees might join an organization for its purpose or reputation, but they stay (or leave) because they love (or hate) their boss and fellow team members. That love or hate is defined by daily behavior, which is influenced by organizational culture, which is influenced by leaders.