Lora Petro Answers Question 1

Thank you for your question. I have been following both ‘the burg watch’ and the ACRG sites closely. To answer your question see below:

Some of the most common characteristics among toxic organizations include: (1) Inefficient internal communication, (2) Internal working relationships developed on manipulative and selfish agendas, (3) Difficulty achieving operational goals and commitments and, (4) Utilizing problem solving methods which feed off of fear. These functions and characteristics lead to managers and employees feeling consistently under attack, helpless, and lacking professional and emotional support. Workplace cultures may exist company-wide as well as differ by department. Therefore, it would make sense that if the leaders and management engage in and encourage toxic behavior, there follows the overall workplace culture. Employees may feel powerless and constantly be in fear with high levels of stress and anxiety which may attribute to our high turnover rate.  Frankly speaking, the toxic environment will continue unless toxins are replaced with non-toxic behaviors and individuals.
To answer the above question regarding “unearthing root causes” and “fixing toxic culture”, the following should be considered:

1.  Interaction and Communication – Looking at the current debt report, as well as Council meetings, there has been a breakdown in communication both between Administration and Council, as well as among Council themselves. By increasing interaction between the Administration and Council, would lead to respectful horizontal discourse (vs. hierarchical) among independent professionals which should include frequent solicitation of viewpoints and opinions. The building of positive work relationships will allow the Council and Administration to grow and change together.

2.  Conflict Resolution – This currently is not happening on Council or with Administration and is documented as such. In a supportive environment, differences are openly discussed; all employees feel equally comfortable in openly challenging company policy; dialogue is the norm. Respectful and meaningful dialogue must be part of day to day activities and allow for individual viewpoints to be heard and valued, while disagreements should be discussed and allow for resolution.

3. Organizational Culture – This should be modelled to include the community. All members of Council, Administration as well as the town should feel that their voices are heard and they are free to speak without fear, reprimand and/or unjustified (vs. constructive) criticism. Working collaboratively will allow this town to continue to grow and succeed in our Municipality.
 Changing a toxic work environment can be a difficult and time consuming task as anyone in any field has probably dealt with at some point in their career. By opening the lines of communication between parties will allow for a foundation of trust and mutual respect to ensure that common goals are met and both parties achieve their success. With a change in workplace environment, an increase workplace satisfaction should occur leading to increased retention rates.

Thank you for the question, I look forward to answering any further ones you or your website followers have.

Respectfully yours,

Lora Petro