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Toxic Culture

C: All right let’s get started, I’m Courtney.

J: And I’m Jackie.

C: Today we’re going to talk about culture. Talk about a word that gets used a lot and means, I don’t know if it means nothing, but it sure doesn’t mean the same thing to different people.

J: That’s right.

C: We care a lot about it because culture is the output of how people behave in an organization. That’s really how we define it, and with all the buzzwords…

J: Oh my gosh, there are endless buzzwords about culture. We love that it’s being talked about but you know getting some clarity around what we really mean when we talk about some of these things is important. One of the biggest buzzwords and I know you’ll all recognize it, is this idea of having a “toxic culture.” And we were thinking that before you really deepen the conversation around your so-called toxic culture is you really should have an understanding of what that means. So, we’re going to offer a little perspective on that. I would say that a toxic culture is really something that is a deeply unhealthy culture. A place where people really can’t work without suffering some sort of emotional and really physical harm. Toxic cultures are, of course if you think about it, they’re caused by really bad leadership behavior. So the root of a toxic culture is typically really bad leaders. And it’s important that you have that discernment because the other kind of culture that you might also be dealing with is what we’ll call an “annoying culture.”

C: Yeah, and we may have aspects of annoying and toxic in the same culture. But there are things in our culture that are annoying. Things like silos. Tings like decision right authority. It’s annoying when you have to operate in different tools or you don’t have consistency or no one’s agreed to a process. Those things absolutely impact our performance without a doubt, very annoying culture. And the thing that because I’m a change expert, that’s my background, I think there’s a very strong correlation between how much change your organization has gone through and how many annoying things you’re having to deal with as a result. And so your assignment from this week’s Shotcast is to look at your culture, think about what it feels like in your work, and ask yourself is this annoying or is it toxic?

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