Companies often seek assistance in re-establishing their culture due to two reasons. They realize that their culture is sufficient but are aware that culture is an endless game that demands durable systems. In the second scenario, they seek help when they notice that something isn’t working, results are not great, and staff members aren’t functioning to their full potential.

Toxic positivity can be a culture death sentence.

The stereotyped egomaniacs don’t run the most dysfunctional organizations. They rage rather by an executive team that’s trained to put the positive spin on all things–good outcomes, poor results, and even mediocrity. The problem is that a peculiarity of human behaviour is that we follow the example of the people they consider successful, and “false-positivity” becomes a norm.

There’s an increasingly growing number of these types of working environments in our current work in which the clash with positive energy and the traditional “can-do” spirit has metastasized into cultures that are trapped in a sandbox filled with “toxic positivity.”

Toxic positivity guarantees everyone’s compliance, supports existing norms, strips people of their rights and erodes their self-confidence. It almost always signals the beginning of a decline in business.

Here’s how you can spot those false positives.

They are held back by the false notion that everything has to be viewed positively and requiring employees to be positive regardless of the cost.

Toxic positivity is a form of fear-mongering that creates cultures consisting of “cringing yes people” who don’t speak up regarding leadership, strategy and direction, or even ingenious ideas for fear of being branded negative or deemed “not a culture fit.” This creates a disengaged environment in which the most talented people– or those who have the potential to become great through a little encouragement–return to being inactive, slogging along while they connect and distribute resumes.

It’s not a stretch to claim that elements of tyranny and fascism can take over negative and toxic cultures. Opinions are suppressed, and psychological safety is undercut–all behind a veneer of “everything is great.” And, if a record has shown people anything, tyrants never stop trying their positions of power without being overthrown–sometimes from within, but usually through the intervention of an outside party.

The process of healing starts by confronting the facts.

It’s nearly impossible to recreate the toxic culture from within since it’s impossible for people to recognize what norms have developed and form the basis of their culture. Therefore, if you’re employed by or in one of these companies, it is possible to take deliberate steps to create new norms that replace the outdated ones:

  • Create a new standard of openness. What’s needed are a series of well-designed facilitations–structured, non-threatening opportunities for people to talk about the elephants in the room and the things that deeply disturb them about the work, the organization and leadership. One way to start the process of sharing is to clear the air through an exercise called the “Stinky Fish Exercise,” which is based on the idea of the fact that the longer that you keep burying dead fish and the longer you keep it there, the fouler. Many have effective solutions, but they’re also working through years of tension and frustration which need to be let out. It is important to create a secure space where people are allowed to cleanse before establishing the best way to move forward.
  • Establish a standard for objective assessment. Jim Collins uses the mental model of “autopsies without blame.” This scenario is not about determining those who caused the problem but rather the malfunction within the system that caused it. If your decisions have not been successful or met expectations, you shouldn’t waste your time fighting with yourself or throwing colleagues in the face. Instead, it would be best if you focused on analyzing the reasons for failure and learning from your mistakes before swiftly moving to the next step.
  • Make bias towards action the new normal. Transformation and change are typically unnatural within the “Everything’s fine” environment. Nobody is likely to make a splash and propose radical modifications to practices in the workplace or culture. Concentrating on developing a “high bias to action” allows people to make quicker, informed, deliberate decisions. This is because it’s usually better to make decisions and then review the outcomes and adapt rather than stay in the same place for a long time. Be aware that indecisiveness is usually an indicator of a negative environment.

Culture is an endless game.

After establishing the new standards, You must communicate continuously to staff, leadership customers, stakeholders, and customers that the work environment has changed. This requires constant open, transparent and transparent channels for discussion and feedback, along with a sense of faith.

In addition, the new rules need to be continuously embraced and be a part of the way business is conducted. Keep in mind that you’ll never have what’s known as the “perfect” culture. Enhancing the corporate culture is a never-ending game with endless possibilities and limits that never ends. When you stop introducing individuals to the new ways of doing things, they will return to their previous methods.

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