Is Your Workplace Toxic? Can You Do Anything About It?

UPDATED: October 24, 2022
PUBLISHED: October 21, 2022
Is Your Workplace Toxic? Can You Do Anything About It?

How do you identify a toxic workplace? Look at all the daily exchanges that combine into an overall culture. Do examples of mistrust, lack of transparency, competition and personal agendas quickly come to mind? Then it’s time to adopt something called the “humanity factor”—a strong belief in human potential that can elevate how we interact with each other.

I mention the “humanity factor” in my book Stomp the Elephant in the Office because of its ability to change a workplace culture. We all have the ability to change behaviors any time we want. Billions of people wake up each morning wanting to be great and to make a difference. But something happens when they go to work and forget that about themselves, or give up trying the second they walk into the office.

To start transforming your organization’s culture, start by asking yourself or your team a simple question: Do you believe the people around you have the potential to do even greater work?

The answer will likely be yes, but that only kicks off the discussion. There is a correlation between the health of your culture and your organization’s willingness and ability to act on this wisdom. Here’s the follow-up question: How do we know we’re acting as if we believe in each other’s potential?

The answer lies in the type of feedback we give each other, how quickly we share information and our persistence.

So, in your daily interactions, how can you demonstrate your belief in others even more? Here are four ways to start:

  1. Ensure people are accountable to their plans.
  2. Do a better job of asking questions.
  3. Be more collaborative.
  4. Ask for help.

When you practice any of these four actions, you help drive a supportive culture that activates human potential—a far cry from the toxic workplaces that tear down and discourage.

Your company has potential because people have tremendous potential. Your culture is the sum of the daily interactions of everyone in your company. Lead with the “humanity factor” and you can change those interactions—and actualize your vision.

This article was published in May 2015 and has been updated. Photo by AsiaVision/Stocksy

Craig Ross is the CEO and president of Verus Global, a talent and leadership development company for leaders looking to activate the human potential in their organizations. For more than a decade, Craig has partnered with C-Suite executives, leaders and teams elevating performance within global organizations and Fortune 100 companies.