I was sitting around the having a conversation with friends the other day about workplaces and the “office politics” that often soured people’s view of the workplace. I found that it is not only businesses that have this problem. One of my friends, an ex-pastor, said that the church he was associated with was so toxic it drove both him and the minister from the church. I remembered back to my days in academia and recalled the backbiting, alliances, and just plain meanspiritedness I experienced. So one else had their business examples. We all agreed that this kind of culture can be depressing, if not downright debilitating. Following this conversation, I received in my email a tip from the Harvard Business Review on just this subject.
Joseph Grenny, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, keynote speaker, and leading social scientist for business performance wrote in the HBR and article called Yes You Can Make Office Politics Less Toxic. His article was then summarized in the Management Tip of the Day that I received in my email. I am quoting from that tip. It said:
If you want to stop the backroom dealing and posturing in your organization, commit to being transparent in all of your interactions. Think about the larger motives behind your actions, and consider the message your behavior is conveying. Are you showing people that you care most about your ego, reputation, and position? Or that you’re focused on what’s best for the organization and your colleagues? If you’ve been acting in a way that you’re not proud of, say so, and change your ways. Going forward, be explicit about your intentions — explain why you’re calling a meeting, raising a sensitive issue, or disagreeing with a colleague. Don’t force others to read between the lines, which can lead to misinterpretation and gossip. Be open about your motives. You can’t expect an organization to operate at a higher moral level than the one you hold yourself to.
Toxicity thrives on secrecy according to Grenny. Secrecy can be abolished by transparency. If you are having issues with toxicity in your workplace, read Grenny’s article and see if there is something you can institute in your workplace that will help rid the organization of that toxicity, be it a business, a nonprofit, an academic program, or a church.