How to get senior team buy-in to fix a toxic culture 

The leaders of a business set the culture: it cascades from them throughout the organisation. But what if the leaders of your business are the problem?

If you’d like to talk about toxic working practices and what you can do to remedy them, we’re offering a limited number of free phone consultations with coaching pioneer Carol Wilson. 

Click here to book a 15 minute slot in Carol’s next Coaching Culture Clinic

Working with Sir Richard Branson inspired Culture at Work founder Carol Wilson to become a coaching guru. At Virgin she experienced first-hand that if leaders lead through coaching they get more out of their teams. They enjoy management more when teams come to them with solutions rather than problems – or worse, actively concealed problems. And coaching leaders’ teams like work more – enjoying the opportunity to be creative, contribute to the business and take responsibility. A coaching culture is the polar opposite of a toxic culture: overall performance, retention, hiring, and employee engagement all improve.

If the toxic environment in your organisation is being set by members of the senior team, you might be wondering how you can get the buy-in you need to fix the culture.  

Building a business case for change

You can build your case for developing a coaching culture by blending facts, identifying allies, working towards small easy-wins and taking advantage of emotional responses…

Facts

In this series we’ve explored how to go about diagnosing and quantifying a toxic culture in your business, and given some examples of bad company culture that have hit the headlines. Use these facts as the foundation for building a knowledge-base tailored to your organisation that will set the context for your case for change. You’ll need facts at your disposal to prove there is a problem.

Allies

When you need to manage change upwards as well as down, particularly when your leaders may be contributing to the unhealthy working practices, you need to identify allies to work with. They could be your manager, peers, or senior leaders in other teams. You’ll need someone to share ideas with and who can help you champion the cause. This is critical.

Small easy-wins

When problems loom large the response can often be not to act. When it comes to trying to win broader support for your mission, it can help to outline “     easy-wins”     . So what can you do to demonstrate simple steps towards change? 

Physician heal thyself! Build your personal manager-as-coach skills and put them into practice. Keep notes of models you use, how you have implemented them and the results and feedback you’ve achieved. Use this to show that small steps can deliver results fast.

Armed with your personal results, engage your allies to push for a small pilot. Train a small group of managers to coach. Again, capture the feedback and results, and promote those successes within the business. 

Take advantage of emotional responses

You’ll be surprised at the power of a positive word of mouth campaign. As word gets out about the impact of the manager-as-coach pilot, you will pique the interest of colleagues and build demand for your programme. 

It will become clear that coaching leaders are more effective leaders – and if the cold facts won’t convert the more tricky senior team, a mix of human curiosity and a desire to be personally successful just might do it. We’ve seen it happen – bullies can be transformed if they can learn a new, positive and effective leadership style. Coaching culture spreads like a happy virus when people realise what is possible. 

The Culture at Work team has helped many companies deal with performance and team-limiting behaviours in the workplace. 

If you’d like to talk about toxic working practices and what you can do to remedy them, we’re offering a limited number of free phone consultations with coaching pioneer Carol Wilson. 

Click here to book a 15 minute slot in Carol’s next Coaching Culture Clinic