How to spot a toxic workplace and what to do about it


How to spot a toxic workplace and what to do about it

Issues with the cultures of big companies, including Uber and Google, have recently been in the news, turning the spotlight onto the subject of toxic workplaces. But few are talking about the causes.

What are the indicators that a company’s culture or workplace could quickly turn toxic?

The roots of a company culture include rules, expectations, and policies. If these are subjective — left open to interpretation — the company invites differing opinions, which causes conflict, which results in toxicity. Subjective work processes and systems are the sources of most toxic company cultures.

How you can spot a potential problem

If you are on the outside of a company looking in, there are some indicators that should encourage you to explore further. Using whatever access you have to people in the company and/or company materials such as job descriptions, policies, and procedures, look for subjectivity.

For example, if a job description…

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