10 Signs Your Office Culture is Toxic

Toxic corporate culture

You’ve heard all the hype about company culture: “Build a company culture that attracts and retains top talent!” or “Culture isn’t perks, it’s values!” Most of it is good, some of it is sappy.

But just as you can build a healthy company culture by injecting meaning and mission into your daily grind, you could also ignore it totally, decide not to fight for it … and watch how the bullies and less desirable elements take over and turn the workplace into a toxic arena of one-upmanship and verbal takedowns.

One of the four key tenets of the Scrum framework is “change or die.” For workplace culture, it’s closer to “maintain it or the weeds take over.” Because you can’t expect to retain top talent when the work environment becomes toxic and bad behavior is allowed to run rampant.

Here are 10 warning signs to watch out for. Nip them in the bud — if you care about your company.

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How to Stop Letting Coworkers Undermine You

John William Waterhouse - Gossip

It’s probably happened to you more times than you’d care to remember. You’re at the top of your game in the office. Your tasks are done, your projects successful. As a result, your quotas and goals have been reached and decimated.

But then suddenly, you discover nasty rumors about you brown-nosing a supervisor or supposedly working your way up the ladder using unsavory tactics. Somehow coworkers take any opportunity to undermine your achievements by knocking you down a peg with their comments or actions.

And you thought your colleagues were the best mates ever.

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Leadership: The Keys to Instilling Autonomy, Mastery, & Purpose In Your Team

In 2012, a Georgetown University computer science assistant professor named Cal Newport published his third book, entitled So Good They Can’t Ignore You, which offered a unique perspective regarding career advice. Newport argued that “follow your passion” is the worst career advice you can ever subscribe to. And yet, it’s probably one of the most pervasive nuggets of job wisdom around. Even Steve Jobs was a believer:

In his book, Newport argues that passion comes after mastery, that love for the work happens after committing to learning all you can about it. He lays out how satisfying careers are only built by doing rare and valuable work, which can only be done if you have mastered rare and valuable skills — and these are acquired through deliberate practice of your craft. The best advice then, he summarizes, is to adopt a craftsman mentality: one where you deliberately put in Malcolm Gladwell’s theorized “10,000 hours” (though research argues it is less) to learn and master a skill. Only when you master your craft can you acquire the necessary “career capital,” which can then be exchanged for more autonomy (control over how you accomplish your work) or for a mission (finding a higher meaning in your daily tasks), both of which lead to a fulfilling career.

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New Work Rules: What You Need to Know to Welcome the Future

In just a little over a decade, the corporate office has transformed from being the de facto location where work is done into just one of several venues where one can choose to work. Anyone starting a new job today faces a very different set of work “rules” from someone who started work five or ten years ago. Change is swift. And technology has truly disrupted how we work.

At the risk of massive generalization, I’ve condensed the various ways work has changed and in the process stumbled upon 10 succinct work rules which should aid anyone trying to navigate the modern workplace. Welcome to the 21st century!

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Skyping My Team at Midnight in a Tropical Beach Resort: How Work Has Changed For Me

AKA: How Work Has Changed for Me in the Last Two Decades

AKA: You’re Not Really Working Remotely ‘Til You’re Skyping Your Team at Midnight on a Tropical Beach Resort with a Shotgun-Toting Security Guard By Your Side

It was midnight in the open-air dining hall — the only place in the beach resort that had wifi. No lights. No staff. Just the glorious sound of waves crashing on moonlit sands.

I had woken from a short sleep in order to attend the weekly team meeting via Skype. 8:00 AM Pacific meant midnight in the Philippines. But I needed internet. So I walked from the resort villa where my vacationing family slept soundly and crept like a villain to the empty dining area. Cracked open my laptop. No wifi. Uh-oh.

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