By Barri Harris
Belittlement and beratement are not forms of motivation.
When do we hit the tipping point that makes toxic workplaces obsolete?
For a while, it has felt like toxic cultures and toxic leadership would never improve.
In the last few years, I’ve been starting to feel a shift. People all over the globe are saying, “I won’t work like this anymore” and “I deserve better.” Workers everywhere are taking positive action for better work and workplace environments.
When you fall sick, you are told that getting better takes time, but you have a role to play in your healing. You can’t just sit around and wait to heal; sometimes, you need to take positive action to support your healing and hasten your recovery.
Overcoming toxicity in the workplace is a lot like that, too. Many companies are stepping up, hiring consulting firms to help leaders rethink their organizations and culture, to create environments where people can thrive at work. Purpose-driven companies appear every day, and there is now a wealth of research data to prove they consistently outperform across virtually all industries.
Will it be enough? Truthfully, I don’t think we should wait patiently to find out.
The evidence is there at every turn: as we “humanize” the workplace, humans become happier and generate meaningful outcomes. Notice I didn’t just refer to productivity. It’s not about doing more; it’s about working smarter. I’m a big fan of the Pareto rule, which states 20% of your effort will yield 80% of your success. It challenges us to get creative and focus on figuring out what that 20% is. Just so you know, it’s the magic that teams have when everyone comes together to achieve a meaningful goal so we can spend our energy on stuff that really matters and lights us up.
Imagine working in an environment where your manager and your team have your back. You share ideas freely, and when things go a bit sideways, no one holds grudges or blames another, because it was just a learning experience on the way to success.
Imagine working for a manager who truly wants to see you grow professionally and cares for you personally, someone who values your relationship more than they value being seen as “right.”
Now imagine you are that manager and how it feels when you see the amazing results attained by your team, and feel your chest swell with pride. Not only did you surpass your corporate objectives, but you had fun collaborating even when you faced challenges. You are confident your team will do extraordinary things, and you know them to be great people. That’s a thriving team.
I do believe we will get to the tipping point where thriving workplaces make the thought of working in a toxic work environment as obsolete as dictating memos became once we had email. What’s a memo? Ack, that dates me.
It will require getting out of the rut we are in, and expecting and demanding better. It also means each of us has to choose to take action, because there is a groundswell happening and we need to jump in to make it a tidal wave. Each one of us has the power to choose to bring our best self to work and to commit to build trust, accountability and a sense of purpose in concert with our team.
None of us needs to go on this journey alone. That’s the coolest part. As you realize that thriving workplaces are possible, you notice evidence they exist. Training, coaching and support is there to help individuals at all levels of the organization to accelerate the pace of positive change.
I invite you to open yourself to the possibility of thriving teams and workplaces, like Scully and Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc., when they realized that laughter was 10 times more powerful than screams—and powered all of Monstropolis. We need to harness the power of appreciation and camaraderie, which can enrich our endeavours and transform our places of work.
If this hits home for you and you are ready to thrive at work, I encourage you to check out The Eureka Project. Our mission is to make workplaces a better place to work. Our network of inspired people-leaders, practical training and “got your back” coaching is here for you.
Barri Harris is the principal consultant for Eureka! Business Management Limited
This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.
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