How to Clean Up a Toxic Culture

how to clean up a toxic culture

In the experience of author Jeremy Andrus (of Traeger-cooking company), the first step in trying to solve a cultural problem is to eliminate the majority owner.

Meet with the top people in the company to get a sense of their willingness to change. Conduct a culture survey to gather qualitative and quantitative data and allow for anonymous feedback.

Start from Scratch

The only way to deal with the toxic culture was to reboot. One can move office headquarters where most of the new executives live to build a strong team. Leave behind the employees who are blocking your efforts to create a more positive and collaborative culture. There are many examples of this as a crucial strategy to initiate change efforts.

Work on a plan carefully before announcing it. It may be a costly move since you will be paying severance and retention bonuses to key people to stick around and set up new headquarters.

Build the culture from scratch too.

Assess each retained employee based on retained competency, experience, and cultural fit. Classify them into positive cultural leaders, neutral, or cultural detractors. If people were cultural detractors, you don’t want them.

If someone was culturally neutral and highly skilled in a job invite him or her to join you. Cultural leaders should be invited too. Be careful not to bring anyone who could infect the new culture you are trying to create. You need culture drivers, not culture hinderers.

Create Space True to the Brand

Apply a tight cultural filter to anyone you hire. Find people who are already living by your values, behaviours, and practices as well as being aligned to your strategy.

Your physical offices should play an important part in the new culture. Create an environment that feels true to your brand.

The resources you put into the office design should communicate your values as well.

Review and overhaul your strategy, marketing, and product line. Change should be apparent in the mood around your headquarters.  Business partners should see it too because they play a vital role in helping you educate consumers.