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Bad Behaviors: Toxic Cultures


Many senior managers are out of touch with their workplace culture

A recent international study of more than 1000 people has confirmed what many have long suspected, senior managers are unaware of what their staff really think.

The study titled Bad Behaviors, Toxic Cultures, which was undertaken by Australian based Keystone Management Services, reveals that many senior managers don’t realize staff are gossiping, spreading rumors, ridiculing management and displaying general negativity.

Director of Keystone Management Services, Steve Simpson, said the study found consistent and strong differences about how senior, middle and non-managers viewed their workplace culture.

“More than 40 per cent of employees surveyed said that negative behavior was rife in their workplace, yet only 20 per cent of senior managers felt this behavior was commonplace,” Mr Simpson said.

“In contrast 72 per cent of senior managers said staff often displayed positive, solutions-oriented mind sets, while only 50 per cent of non-managers felt this behavior was commonly showed.

“Overall 51 per cent of senior managers rated their workplace culture highly, compared to 28 per cent of middle managers and 29 per cent of non managers,” he said.

Mr Simpson said the results are disturbing as a negative workplace culture can have dire consequences on an organization.

‘The worrying thing about the study is that senior managers seem to be unaware problems exist, which means it is unlikely that underlying issues will be addressed,” he said.

“Consequence of a negative workplace culture include staff who only carry out the minimum work required, lost productivity as energies are directed towards negative behavior and a higher staff turnover.

“Not only are all of these symptoms very unpleasant, but they can also have a major impact on the bottom line performance of a business.

Mr Simpson said it is vital that senior managers are in touch with workplace behavior, and there are some simple steps that can be undertaken to improve toxic cultures.

“Managers need to put in place tools to monitor the organization’s culture and then act on the results and be open to feedback,” he said.

“It is important that senior managers are seen as being proactive and align what they say they are going to do with what they actually do or staff will not bother voicing concerns.

“Non-managers can also help improve their workplace culture by directing their energies towards being constructive and by speaking to their manager if they have a problem rather than dealing with the issue in a negative manner,” he said.


 corporate culture
 organizational culture
 managing people

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