Why do organizations tolerate dysfunctional interactions that destroy trust? And what prevents leaders from confronting toxic behaviors effectively? In this short clip, Elizabeth Holloway, PhD in Psychology, provides a useful introduction to understanding how toxic behaviors persist.
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Our Viewpoint on Toxic Behaviors in Organizations
As Dr. Holloway argues toxic behavior relies on a system with different players. Identifying the participants in a toxic situation can help everyone gain clarity about the dynamics at play and decide for themselves what is the right course of action, whether as a leader or as a participant.
In her presentation, Holloway identifies three players in a toxic behavior system as:
- The perpetrator,
- The protector and
- The buffer,
For good measure, I will add the notion of:
In fact, once a pattern of toxic behavior is entrenched, everybody in the organization becomes an avoider to some degree. (As we will see later this often also applies to the leader.)
What holds the situation in place is fear. Most of us have no expertise in confronting toxic behavior. Besides, in many instances the person calling out the toxic behavior gets labelled the trouble maker. So no one thinks they have anything to gain through confrontation.
The Making of a Toxic Culture
In this interview conducted on November 15, 2012, I explore with David Keller the need for exploring project unknowns through conversations before launching major projects.
David has extensive experience in complex trading systems and led technology projects in both start-ups and large corporations as Co-Founder, Data Symmetry, Chief Information Officer & Senior Vice President, NEW YORK MERCANTILE EXCHANGE, Chief Information & Technology Officer, Founder, EnergyNet® & EnerSoft® Corporation.
By Alain Bolea and David Keller
A high proportion of Technology projects do not deliver: they are late, the product or service does not match end-user requirements, and/or requires significant late stage changes to satisfy the client’s needs. Such outcomes usually reduce a company’s competitive position, increase project costs, and strain relationships. Creating success in IT projects calls for greater project team alignment upfront.
Common Pitfalls of Technology Projects
At their inception, troubled projects tend to follow the same scenario; we call it “Rushing to fail” and it typically goes like this:
- High-level project parameters are set by a few individuals using an incomplete view of the needs of end-users, project constraints and risks.
- Because key project assumptions come from senior management, the project staff often unconsciously avoids fully vetting them; “solutions” are railroaded to meet timetable, budgets and requirements.
This faulty process, sourced in an incomplete view of the project as a whole combined with a rush to performance, is the real reason why projects fail.
Elon Musk discusses how collaboration needs to be a concern even when hiring exceptionally talented individuals because their ability to work well with others is essential.
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Collaboration is key to having teams function well. The level of collaboration impacts both the team’s ability to perform and its ability to innovate. Keeping in mind that even the smartest person will have to interface with others in order to be effective is an essential part of a healthy hiring process.