How to Clean Up a Toxic Workplace

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Arguments in the workplaceA toxic workplace is not good for business. Start cleaning up.

A toxic work environment can be very bad for your business. It can seriously affect your employees’ productivity, resulting in low morale, lack of creative energy, high employee turnover and financial losses for your business.

What Makes a Toxic Workplace?

In a toxic workplace, dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotions run high. A toxic work environment is usually characterized by widespread anger and frustration, hypocrisy, and an overly restrictive system that thrives on controlling others. It is a place where the bullies are admired as leaders and scapegoats are blamed for everything that goes wrong in the organization.

Some of the most common toxic personality types in the workplace include the gossiper who knows everything about everyone in the office, the credit-takers and spotlight stealers who take credit for someone else’s work or ideas, and the underminers and the hypercriticals who take pleasure in waiting for someone else to commit a mistake and rub it in. You may also encounter other toxic personality types such as the office bully, the whiners, the brown-nosers and the know-it-alls.

Cleaning Up a Toxic Workplace: Steps in Getting Started

Considering the negative effects of a toxic work environment, how can you make sure that your workplace would not turn into one? And how would you address the situation if you realize that your work environment is far from being ideal? Here are some suggestions that may help you accomplish your goal.

Know yourself. This is the first step you have to take if you are serious in cleaning up your work environment. Assess how you treat people. Be humble enough to admit your mistakes and try to make up for your shortcomings by treating people with more respect.

Do not reward negative behavior. You may not realize it but you may be rewarding negative behavior without even knowing it. A simple nod when talking with a backstabbing colleague may be taken as tacit agreement while allowing the office chatterbox to monopolize your attention can encourage them to continue doing their nasty habits.

Encourage face-to-face interaction. While email works great in communicating facts and figures, it is not suitable for conveying emotions. Worse, it can even distort your message.

Restore focus. While some experts advocate multitasking at work, some studies indicate that people cannot effectively handle multiple high-level tasks at the same time and may only lead to more friction in the workplace.

Take action. Do not let toxic personalities get away with their wrongdoings. However, instead of engaging them in an explosive confrontation, you should address their behavior and performance if you want to resolve matters in a more professional manner. Sidestep the drama and you will have a better chance of restoring harmony in the workplace.