Have you ever worked in a Toxic Work Environment?
You know, where
* everyone has their guard up, anticipating the worst (usually from the same person or persons).
* and no amount of complaining about it to management causes any meaningful action.
Toxic work environments seem to be more like the norm than the exception.
Surveys show that a majority of workers hate their jobs. Could it be that they don’t hate their jobs as much as they hate their work environment?
We’ve all heard people say “Thank God, it’s Friday” – but have rarely heard people say, “Thank God, it’s Monday!”
In contrast to the toxic work environment I described above, I’ve had experience with work environments that people love to come to work in.
For the last five years, I have been going to Dialysis three times a week. That’s for people whose kidneys have either stopped working or are at very low levels. For four hours I sit in a chair with needles in my arm, hooked up to a machine that cleans my blood. It’s not a pleasant experience, but it keeps me alive. During my four hours hooked up to the machine, I have ample time to observe the work – and the work culture of the unit. Here are my observations:
- “Work here is a collaboration. While only one person puts me on the machine, others check on me during the session. When bells go off in the machine, the nearest person comes over and checks on me. This is all done seamlessly. So, it is very much of a team effort.”;
- “People often ask each other for help. I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘I can’t!’
- “There is much laughter and bantering back and forth;
- “There is a wide array of expertise and rank, so, some things can only be performed by someone with that expertise and rank, but I’ve never sensed a hierarchical atmosphere. There are technicians, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, and a doctor;
- “By and large, it’s a cheerful group of people, who tirelessly work to keep all of us patients healthy – and alive;
- “Every session, I try to remember to thank the technician who oversees my treatment for what they do to keep me alive!” (Apparently, I’m one of the few patients who do that.);
- “Granted most of the staff are women, so that might explain the more collaborative atmosphere.”
What might replace Toxic Work Environments? And how might that come about?
Ken Bardach and I have been interviewing dozens of what we are calling “Noble Leaders” from all over the world for a book we are writing on The Noble Leader.
We have observed that Noble Leaders tend to create work places that are:
- Mutually supportive
- Collaborative rather than competitive
- Joyful and Playful
- Filled with Respect and Care for fellow workers
And, oh, by the way, that
- Have high morale and low turnover – AND
- Achieve better results than do Toxic Work Environments
In an earlier book, I described a positive work environment. See Noble Enterprise: The Commonsense Guide for Uplifting People and Profits
I’d be interested in hearing from you:
- Examples of Toxic Work Environments you have worked in;
- Examples of Positive Work Environments you have worked in, and
- What you think caused the latter.
I will let you know what The Noble Leader book is published.