3 Reasons Your Business Culture May Be Toxic (…and how to fix it)

There is nothing more hindering to business growth than a toxic work environment.

The symptoms manifest throughout your organization – such as poor performance, high turnover, issues between employees and teams, burnout and more. But what contributes to a toxic work environment in the first place?

For many teams, it comes down to a lack of trust. Leaders often find it hard to trust their staff and let go of responsibilities as their business grows. In turn, 63 percent of employees report a lack of trust in their company’s leader, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.

But trust is one of the most crucial keys to success in building your team and growing your business. Without it, people compete for recognition, talk behind each other’s backs, look out for themselves, and let selfish motivations lead the way.

When trust is present, team members work together, perform their best, look out for one another, and creativity and innovation flourishes.

In order to fix a toxic environment, business owners and leaders need to acknowledge when their team culture is not working. The first step is to assess why there is a lack of trust. The second step is to then determine how to build trust within your team and implement a plan to make it happen.

Here are a few reasons trust may be lacking in your business or organization, and what you can do about it.

1. Lack of Delegation

 Executives spend, on average, 41 percent of their time doing tasks that offer them no satisfaction, do not help the growth of their business, and/or could easily be handled by someone else. But delegation is crucial to building operational efficiency. Many business owners and managers take on so many tasks, it keeps them from focusing on leadership responsibilities of their team.

Appropriate delegation frees up leaders’ time to focus on business growth and team development, keep up with changes to technology within the industry, improve operations and business development. At the same time, giving team members additional responsibilities sends them a powerful message that they are trusted, competent and valuable.

Stepping back from certain tasks and leaning more on your team can often be difficult to do, but here are a few tips to get started:

  • Plan which tasks to delegate ahead of time (don’t wait until you are overwhelmed!)
  • Train employees appropriately so they are prepared to successfully complete the tasks they are assigned
  • Evaluate your workload, and make a list of low value and time-consuming tasks (these are the things that should be delegated first)
  • Get input from your team to help with delegation by figuring out what certain employees are good at and what they can handle

2. Lack of Engagement

 Are you taking time to engage with your team? Are you giving them opportunities to engage with one another, or is their work environment so stagnant, that they keep to themselves?

Engagement and trust go hand in hand. Deeper engagement leads to more satisfied employees that feel empowered and involved.

Here are a few ways to increase engagement with your team:

  • Don’t be a stranger; regularly see your team members face-to-face. Even if you are working remotely, a videoconference and chats promotes positive engagement
  • Establish core values to guide decision-making in your organization, and follow those values as a leader
  • Ask team members for feedback, input, ideas, and collaboration
  • Recognize employee contributions and show gratitude for their hard work

3. Lack of Communication

 Communication fuels collaboration. Without giving your team members a voice, how can trust be established?

When a team members feel safe enough to share their thoughts, opinions and ideas, they are also able to contribute to problem-solving, feedback and conflict resolution.

Here are a few ways to build up effective communication with your team:

  • Be open and honest with your team – sharing both good and bad news
  • Set regular times for the entire team to review business results and talk strategy
  • Encourage questions and suggestions from the team, and implement good ideas when they come
  • Avoid business jargon with your team members – speak to them like human beings and get to know who they are

Make trust-building a priority within your organization. Through purposeful delegation, deeper engagement, and increased communication with employees, you’ll see your team be more productive and content – contributing to the overall growth of your business.

What’s more, studies show that engaged employees don’t just have better performance at work, there’s a strong likelihood that they have fulfilling personal lives. What could be more fulfilling to a leader, as well as your team, than that?

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