No workplace is ever completely harmonious, but can you tell the difference between the inevitable ups and downs of working with other people in stressful situations and a toxic environment that ruins morale – and is bad for business?
Pamela Hamilton, of Portsmouth, author of Supercharged Teams: 30 Tools of Great Teamwork, revealed to Femail what makes a toxic team, including colleagues who gossip or joke with others, and how to tackle the problem.
According to Pamela, most workplaces fall into two categories: a group of professionals who try their best to work together, or a “dysfunctional family that makes excuses for each other’s bad behavior and terrible habits.”
How would you describe your team at work? Is it a group of professionals doing their best to work well together to achieve their goals? The answer is an easy way to determine if you are in a toxic environment.
Teamwork expert Pamela Hamilton, from Portsmouth, has revealed the signs that your team is toxic and has provided tips to rectify the situation, stock photo
“We spend so much time at work that we get to know each other well. Everyone has good days and bad days, and we don’t always work together as well as we could,” Pamela said.
‘But if we get along and do our best, working in a team can be fun.
“We can’t always choose who they are, we get to know each other well over time and eventually we find out what everyone is good at, and sometimes we see their worst sides under pressure.”
This closeness sometimes leads people to view their colleagues at work as a “family,” but Pamela said this is the wrong approach.
Seven Signs Your Work Team Is Toxic
You may be on a toxic team – here are the warning signs:
- Bullying and bad behavior are ignored, excused or even encouraged
- People regularly cry at work or yell at each other
- Team chatter makes other colleagues feel uncomfortable, ashamed, or left out
- People make excuses for each other like ‘don’t mind her, she’s always like that’, or ‘ignore him, he doesn’t mean it’
- People are indiscreet, unprofessional or spreading gossip
- People are overworked, underpaid or treated unfairly, for example they are expected to answer emails at all times
- There is a culture of fear – nobody wants to say anything because they are afraid of being targeted
“Work teams are not our families,” she said. “In fact, high-performing teams prefer to use the analogy of a sports team. We are here to win together, which means being our strongest, best version of ourselves and playing well together.
“If we do a good job, we win our matches and we enjoy ourselves. It’s no longer acceptable to just say “it’s always been that way”. Instead, we need to put our best self to work and get other people to do the same,” she said, continuing the analogy.
Pamela said the best teams respect each other no matter who they are and whatever pressure they are under.
She added that research has shown that bullying and bad behavior such as gossiping are not only bad for team morale but also lower team performance.
“So they’re not just bad for the team members, they’re bad for business,” she said.
However, Pamela added that toxic teams usually develop a strong culture, which is difficult to break apart.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve the situation.
“We all have a responsibility to each other to improve our behavior at work. Anyone on a team, be it the team leader or a team member, can step in to fix a toxic team.”
1. Ask for things to improve
The first thing to do to improve a team’s toxic behavior is to actually ask for things to be improved, Pamela said.
“If there’s a toxic culture, everyone on the team can say to the rest of the team, ‘I’m uncomfortable/unhappy/bad about how we behave together at work, could try to work together in a better way. work?”,’ she said.
“You don’t blame anyone, you present the opportunity to improve the situation. In the worst case, people may not take you seriously and you have to keep asking a few times before listening,” she added.
But in most cases, Pamela said your colleagues are more likely to agree and support you, and start asking the same questions to work better together, the expert added.
2. Focus on Behavior, Not People:
Once you’ve captured people’s attention and made them aware that you’d like things to improve, you can refer to examples of behaviors you want to correct,” Pamela said, adding that it’s important not to blame them. to shift certain individuals. .
Pamela wrote SuperCharged Teams: 30 Tools for Great Teamwork
“You can say, ‘I know we all used to laugh when we tease the interns, but I don’t feel comfortable about it anymore because I don’t think they think it’s funny. I’d rather we stop,” she explained.
3. Speak early if it happens again
Talking early is crucial to making sure you stop toxic behavior, Pamela said.
Once you’ve talked about a problem, make sure you repeat the fact that you’re uncomfortable as soon as you see it happen.
“Once you’ve said you’re not comfortable with a certain behavior, the next time it happens, you can say, ‘I’ve already said I’m uncomfortable lashing out at the interns, I don’t think it’s good to continue. . I’d like it to end,’ she said.
4. Name and explain unacceptable behavior
Naming and explaining what kind of behavior you don’t allow on your team is a good way to get ahead when other people join in.
“In the future, or when new people join, you and the rest of the team can tell them how you agreed to work together and what you don’t do as a team,” Pamela said.
“For example, ‘We don’t joke with each other on this team because some people were very uncomfortable with it, even if other people thought it was funny,'” she added.
“We discussed it and we agreed it wasn’t fair, so we stopped doing it,” she continued.
5. Find support
“If all your efforts fail to make the team less toxic, you may need to ask for advice and support from your boss or HR,” said the teamwork expert, adding that it may not be enough.
“Sometimes corporate cultures are so ingrained that they need professional intervention from someone who is independent or more senior,” she said.
“In toxic team situations, it’s much better to speak up than to let things get worse. You do it not only to improve your feeling at work, but also to help the rest of the team,” she said.
Pamela added that some people didn’t realize the power they had over others, but that if you “openly” discuss how you would like to work together, then you will build trust, do better work and enjoy your work more.’
“Everyone on the team, not just the leader, has the permission and responsibility to ask people to behave better at work,” she said.
“Let’s not be a dysfunctional family at work, let’s be more like sports teams and try our best to play well together and win.