How to Tackle That Toxic Culture

I absolutely loved coming into the office. Anytime there was a team meeting, a sales conference, I had a conference call – I loved everything about the people, the culture, and the work that I was doing for so long. I also knew how rare that was. So when all of a sudden this amazing culture did a total 180 and became extremely toxic, it was like a shock to the system. I was floored, paralyzed; I didn’t know what I was going to do.

But immediately, as a leader, I knew I could not allow this toxic culture to poison my team. And while I was trying to fix the greater problem at hand, I knew it was going to take time. It wasn’t something that I could change overnight, not even over the course of a few months – it took nearly a year.

During that time, I knew I needed to create an underground subculture that maintained that positivity: the reasons, the things, the attributes that I loved about working for this organization.

So whether you are a formal or informal leader, if you are facing some of this toxicity, some of the toxic culture around you, you absolutely can and should create this underground culture to protect, to elevate, to support your team, or even just those around you.

We want to hang on to good people, we want to continue to create amazing things in our organization – but we’ve got to have the right culture to do it.

So don’t feel like it’s not your responsibility, or that you have to wait for something bigger to change. You can actually create this secret, underground, amazing culture yourself. It is the little things, like sometimes I would take people to coffee. We would go across the street to the hotel that had coffee in their lobby, and we would sit there. Sometimes it was informal, or we would move some of our team meetings or our creative sessions there.

Going into the new year, I decided to throw a fun celebration that was rewarding, acknowledging people for fun, quirky things that were relative to them. I had the team weigh with all of these fun nicknames, and I gave them little prizes, little chotsky prizes – but it was to create this energy, this fun feel back into the culture.

I worked with my colleagues to continue a monthly collaboration session where we could still bring about our forward-thinking ideas and support each other. Even when the culture in one location was completely different than another, it helped us all stay afloat.

Especially right now, as you are going through constant change where there is potentially an even greater chance of being in a toxic culture, I am challenging you to take on the responsibility and build that cool, underground, awesome culture yourself!

And bring people along with you – they will want to go, trust me! Don’t let the toxic culture take over. What are your thoughts on culture? How are you making sure that a really strong, positive culture stays in place? Give us your tips, I’d love to hear from you!

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