How Effective Leaders Deal with Toxic Work Environments

Lily Cooper
Professional Writing Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Employees working in cubicles

As we have seen in the news lately, many large organizations have been dealing with fraud and scandal at the highest levels of leadership. Companies that were once respected and admired have seen their reputations tarnished because of the actions of their leaders.

A lot has also been written about toxic work environments. Many employees experience a negative work environment due to the leadership. As a leader who wants to better themselves, it is important for business students to know how to deal with a toxic work environment.

Find Out What Is Going on

Leaders may hear from managers and other employees that something is not right within the business. They may see statistics such as high turnover or many people taking sick days. As they walk through the halls of the business they may notice that employees are disengaged or not as joyful as they once were. When a leader begins to notice these things they must take action. The first thing to do is to find out what is causing these changes. Leaders can create an anonymous survey or some kind of way to collect feedback that will provide information about the current situation.

Ask for Help

Leaders may have trouble changing a culture because it is one that they helped establish. It is difficult for them to be unbiased when it comes to their own business. As such, leaders who are dedicated to improving the work culture need to work with an external advisor or business coach in order to analyze the information they have collected about employee dissatisfaction. This consultant can help a leader develop strategies to respond to the problems.

Let Your Team Know You Are Working on Improvement

Leaders need to be transparent about what they notice about the workplace culture and environment. This conversation may feel uncomfortable, but it is important to let employees know that they are seen and heard. A strong leader will recognize the dissatisfaction publicly and share assessment data as well as the strategies toward a solution the leader is trying. Leaders need to let employees know that they are invested in making changes for the better. This can allow for an open forum where people can freely speak their mind and share thoughts about changes that need to be made.

Include HR in the Process

Once a leader identifies the issues, creates a plan around them and lets employees know that they are taking action, it is important to include the human resources department in the process. The HR department is the front line in dealing with these types of issues. The people working in HR have training and experience in supporting employees through difficult matters. After seeking unbiased help outside the organization, leaders should turn toward their internal people, those who know the employees best, to help make real change in the organization.

To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business provides great businesses students with the tools to become future thought leaders, visit our website or click the Request More Information Button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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