Performance: Toxic organizations drive good employees away

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

In today’s highly competitive world, often the only thing that differentiates your company from the competition is the knowledge, ability and commitment of the people on your team.
Companies that take great care in the development and management of their culture and their people will outperform their competition on a consistent basis. The most financially successful companies are highly effective at creating environments in which they continuously find ways to increase the level of employee engagement.
There is no talent shortage. If you build it, they will come. Sounds corny, I know, but if your organization has been effective at building a healthy culture, one in which people are actively involved in evaluating departmental performance, decision-making and in developing departmental and corporate plans, you will have no trouble attracting, hiring and retaining the right talent.
Conversely, toxic organizations drive people away. These are organizations in which the motivation has been killed by poor managers, toxic co-workers, inflexible work environments as well as work policies and expectations that leave little room for managing a healthy balance between work and personal life.
Among highly talented individuals, there is an increasing unwillingness to work for organizations that have toxic cultures, managers and policies. More than ever, talented people view themselves as independent contractors. They know where they fit in the marketplace, they know what they’re worth, and they know the kind of environment they want to work in.
Employees today are more discriminating about their work environments and are less willing to tolerate a corporate atmosphere that is toxic.
A friend of mine informed me that she recently changed employers. Without using the word toxic, that is exactly how she described her previous work environment. Her previous employer rarely showed appreciation for the contributions of others, talked down to the team, ignored input and observations of others, and so on. Consequently, and unknown to the employer, many people within this organization are currently seeking new employment.
This employer is obviously disconnected from the reality of the current situation. They do not understand the cause-and-effect relationship between how they are treating their employees and the financial results of the organization.
This business happens to be a service organization, and when several folks walk out the door, the company will lose knowledge, experience and client history, not to mention client relationships.
All of this insight and value moves on down the road, presumably to an organization that will do a better job of valuing their employees, thus capitalizing on their intellect and wisdom.
Companies get what they deserve. If your organization has behaved in a manner that has earned the loyalty and dedication of your employees, then congratulations! You have built a non-toxic, well-functioning company with an engaged and stable workforce. You probably have decent earnings performance as well.
If your behaviors, policies and corporate attitudes in general have created a toxic environment, it is highly likely you experience high turn-over, bad attitudes and your earnings are not what they could be.
Your job as a business leader is to take the equivalent of a corporate antioxidant, which is to say you need to find ways to change your culture to show you value the folks who create value for your organization.
Philip Mydlach is the owner of Mydlach Management Advisors, a corporate planning and performance improvement practice in New Berlin. He can be reached at (262) 662-4646 or
March, 4, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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