Today’s leading business leaders understand the vital importance of creating a high performance team culture, where their people are given the tools and support they need to excel.

But what if you inherit an unhappy or dysfunctional team? For the modern leader, what are the signs of a broken team or a broader toxic work culture – and how can you step in to help to find a cure?

Recognising the warning signs of a poor team culture

There are a variety of signs of toxicity within a team. In the worst cases, suspicion, mistrust and team members openly blaming or complaining about each another can quickly lead to low productivity and innovation, and high turnover amongst staff.

However, the signs of a poor team culture aren’t always so obvious, according to director and head of APAC, Mark Weston at Arcadia Culture, a sustainable behavioural change firm.

“A poor team culture is displayed behaviourally in many different ways – such as blame, low levels of morale and a general non-resourceful, pessimistic behaviour,” Weston notes.

When the warning signs of negative team culture are present, Weston suggests it’s up to the manager or leader to be a catalyst for change.

“For me, it’s all about whether that leader shows competency and willingness to change,” he says.

An important starting point is addressing preconceived notions that may have gone unchallenged a long while.

“Everything starts with assessment of the current state,” Weston explains. “Years and years of programming have built our ‘self-talk’. And so this needs rewiring – and replacement language needs installing.”

Work on rebuilding the team

Once the core issues have been recognised and addressed, the focus should shift to taking steps to rebuild and strengthen the team.

“It comes back to having a common purpose and direction – and to the installation of trust,” says Weston. “Having a low self-interest will help, coupled with a smart and giving mentality.”

A critical factor at this stage is instilling a clear, shared mission amongst team members and providing a path forward.

“The purpose is all important, followed by creating a clear and compelling picture of the desired future state,” Weston advises. “Everyone needs to then know the strategies to drive the change and the part they individually play in it.”

RELATED: How to spot the warning signs of a bad boss

Tips for addressing and fixing a broken team culture

  1. Recognise the warning signs. Look out for indicators that the team isn’t functioning as it should be, such as low morale and productivity, frequent conflict and high turnover.

  2. Start a dialogue. Invite discussion and feedback about issues within the team and the broader work culture.

  3. Be willing to change. Consider how different processes, procedures and ways of working can create a more positive, cohesive team environment.

  4. Develop a shared mission. Communicate the path forward to team members and make sure everyone understands their role in helping achieve the team’s collective mission.

  5. Review your approach. Check in regularly to gauge how everyone feels about the team culture as a whole, and their role within it.

Need support with hiring for your team? Get in touch with Page Personnel’s recruitment consultants to discuss your needs.

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