I really hope none of you have had to deal with a work environment that is so toxic that every day you’re on edge. It’s the very antithesis of everything I talk about here. However it does happen. So what can you do as a leader to shield your team from it?
Just because the wider organisation is a nightmare, doesn’t mean you have to exhibit the same characteristics as those around you.
Create a bubble within which your team can operate. I don’t mean take them out of the business and work somewhere else, what I mean it create the right environment for you and them. Work hard on the areas I’ve talked about before; building trust, listening, and fairness. These are even more important when the wider organisation is not a nice place to be.
Act as interceptor. Make sure that if there is a particular individual higher up in the organisation who is creating most of the issues, you need to put yourself between them and your team.
I found myself in such an organisation and what I found was by acknowledging the issues within the rest of the business and allowing my team to talk to me openly and each other about how they were feeling and the impact the environment was having on them, it helped them compartmentalise and focus on what they could achieve and not what was going wrong.
It also gave me real insight into the general feelings within the rest of the company which I then took to the senior leadership team. Was I able to make changes at this level? No, unfortunately not in that particular situation, but what I do know is that my team felt better able to cope and get on with their jobs knowing they had been heard and that I was trying to affect change.