A Toxic Work Culture Is Forcing High-Performing People to Quit

A Toxic Work Culture Is Forcing High-Performing People to Quit

  • Originally Published in LinkedIn on June 25, 2019

Tim DenningViral Blogger | Leader | Sales Professional -Inspiring The World Through Person… See more521 articles Follow

If micro-management thrives and there is no trust in your organization, you are looking down the barrel of a toxic work culture. If you don’t believe me, use one of the many employee engagement products to find out for yourself.

Tell the people in your company that you are going to be surveying them every three months and they can say whatever they want because it’s completely anonymous. After the first survey, watch the comments and feedback pour in. Keep encouraging your people to say what they think.

Toxic work cultures make going to work feel miserable.

In a toxic culture, new ideas can’t thrive, people can’t be honest, bullying unfortunately occurs, leaders are given power that can go to their heads and fuel their egos, and an eerie feeling occurs at your company’s town hall/all hands when leaders ask for questions.

High performers quit toxic work cultures. Every day on platforms such as LinkedIn, high performers are getting messages from recruiters and competitors who are selling the dream that the grass is greener. If your company has a toxic work culture, high performers have nothing to lose by moving on and trying another company.

High performers know their strengths and are also smart enough to realize that if they can perform well in a toxic work culture, they can thrive in a Culture First company that looks after its employees.

If your high performers look disengaged or show little enthusiasm, that is a red flag that your organization is toxic.

Image Credit: MixMag/Lawrence Abbott Illustration

Here is what a toxic work culture looks like from someone who has worked in one:


People can’t make decisions

Basic decisions that can cause customers to leave, can’t be made. A simple refund for a client that never received the service they paid for takes weeks when it should take minutes.

When a decision needs to be made to change a product because customers are leaving by the dozen, a decision can’t be made. It’s easier to make no decision than it is to make a decision that admits things need to change.


Working from home or part-time work is seen as lazy

Management doesn’t allow people to work from home because they want to watch people. Working from home means you’ll be less productive and take advantage of the situation.

The fact you might have a newborn baby at home and don’t want to do the two-hour commute each day so you can work more is ignored.

Then, staff who want to work part-time because they have a side hustle, children, or a second job are prevented from doing so or referred to as “lazy.”

Here’s the thing: part-time work and working from home is not lazy.

Both forms of work allow people to have lives and they will reward you (if you allow them) with loyalty and commitment to their work.

Excluding part-time work or working from home is limiting your talent pool severely because it is such a common way of working. Being chained to a desk in an office does not make you high performing or a profitable asset; being allowed to be flexible and treated like a human does.


Entrepreneurship is frowned upon

Toxic work cultures hate entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs because they are scared to death that they are going to leave and steal their ideas.

Thriving work cultures take people that have experience owning a business and utilize them like their secret weapon. They promote entrepreneurship because they want people to feel as though it is their business and they can make decisions.

Utilize entrepreneurs while you have them, and if they leave, wish them all the best. Entrepreneurs are the reason that businesses are created in the first place — remember that.


“MANAGEMENT vs. US” culture

Leaders are referred to as management and the front line staff are told that the company is cutting costs.

Meanwhile, the leaders are having deliciously catered for meals off silver plates, taking black limos to meetings and spending crazy amounts of money on social media marketing that makes them look good.

Front line staff say things such as “Management really needs to look at problem X.”

In a non-toxic culture, management and staff are one and people are accountable. Sentences like “Management needs to do…” are not relevant because staff can make decisions and the two sides of the business are one.

The less hierarchy, the more people feel included and that produces a thriving, collaborative culture.


The number of hours you work matter

Judging people by when they start work and how late they work is irrelevant. We all know that the number of hours we work has nothing to do with output.

You can be at your desk for 12-hours straight and be doing nothing other than surfing the web and complaining to your pals about the company you work for.

Culture First companies understand that output produces results and that on some days you will be productive, and on other days you may have suffered the loss of a loved one or be feeling unwell. Regardless, all that is taken into account is results.

And here’s the kicker: when the results are not there, leaders take accountability and coach their people out of it or help them get a role they are better suited for.

If leaders are watching the clock, you have a problem.


Preferential treatment

In-between the formal layers of hierarchy, there are these soft spongy bits called “preferential treatment.”

These are people that are given extra privileges for enforcing the leaderships toxic culture and talking behind people’s backs in order to gain something. Instead of being part of the solution, they make the problem bigger and are rewarded for it.

Image Credit: SebastienThibault.com

Talking down to people who have found themselves in the wrong role

People who are under-performing are called all sorts of nasty names and treated unfairly. They are seen as stupid or not good at business.

In thriving cultures, these people are helped, coached and given feedback. Leaders stand up and help them find the right role if it turns out; for example, they applied for sales and don’t really enjoy talking to customers.

People in the wrong roles can be some of the best staff you have in your business if you can be compassionate enough to give them a second chance in a different role.

The appreciation that comes from being helped rather than shamed converts into long-term loyalty that rebuilds careers, and becomes the basis of a thriving culture.


Shaming low performance

If there are punishments for low performance, you have a big problem. 

Shaming people won’t make them perform better; it will make them hate the leadership team and the company even more.

This hatred will then be directed towards your customers and you’ll have more of those “Why are we not making money?” meetings when really it’s your culture that sucks.


A rotating door policy

When people decide to leave or mention they are thinking of leaving, they are talked about as traitors.

Having people leave regularly is normal and acceptable in toxic work environments. There are no exit interviews or questions around why a particular leader has had so many people leave in a short space of time.

Each time, the excuse is “Johnny was crap, so it’s a good thing he is leaving.”

When you scour the company’s staff on LinkedIn, you see that staff don’t last long at the company.


Asking staff to write positive reviews online to cover up the toxicity

Yes, it happens. Toxic cultures can easily be recognized by former staff leaving negative reviews on places such as GlassDoor.

Image Credit: GettyImages.com

In a toxic work culture, business leaders panic and try to cover up the error in their leadership by asking staff to leave fluffy, fake, in-genuine reviews online to cover up the bad ones.

You can’t hide a toxic work culture; you can only fix it by recognizing it and changing how you treat people.


Values are spoken of rarely

They are written on the company website, mentioned at the annual conference, but never talked about in the context of everyday work.

When talking to a client or making a decision, the values are forgotten about.

In a thriving culture, you can’t even get hired unless you can demonstrate the values. The references you provide are asked about values, you are required to provide evidence and you may even be asked to do a case study where the values will be assessed.

At the end of the year when performance reviews are had, profit and revenue is only one small part of the conversation. Leaders focus in on the company values because they know that it’s the glue that holds everything together and ultimately produces revenue.


SOLUTION: It starts at the top

  • Start with trusting people first
  • Earn people’s respect
  • Be compassionate to your people’s circumstances
  • Give your people development opportunities
  • Respect the way people like to get their work done
  • Encourage autonomy of decision-making
  • Let people be themselves (race, religion, sexual preference, gender, background — who cares)

Final thought

Toxic cultures cause share prices to drop and profits to plummet. Instead of looking at spreadsheets and accountants for answers, look at your people. Your people are what cause profits to go up or down.

Identify the problems of your company’s culture, own them, and then become obsessed with asking your people how you can change them. Then, implement the changes.

Fight toxic work cultures by making your company transform into being Culture First. It starts with people.


If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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I Survived a Toxic Office

It’s been nearly 3 years since I left a toxic office environment at large Hong Kong corporation and preparing to start new work after months of interviewing and upskilling.

Looking back at my time there, the office was really questionable given the circumstances I was brought in, the day-to-day challenges, and the way they treated me as I left the offices.

The company had an intense clique mentality. Nearly every department had their own cliques and subgroups and these groups had a tendency of not being inclusive. It was already a challenge getting to work with the more local colleagues but the fact my former managers tolerated or enabled cliques made the work situation unpleasant. These colleagues would go to lunch without me, not even have the decency to ask if I was interested in something out of courtesy, and really disliked speaking English despite being a multinational office. I wound up getting along with the non-local staff and those who are not into office politics as a result.

Their HR (People Team) does not pretend to even care about employee well-being. Whenever, there is an issue related to cliques or unpleasantness, the HR would pretend to schedule a meeting to discuss then not show up without any real reason. Any attempt to address concerns about reduction of job scope would be met with “oh jobs always evolve at the company”. During my last day at the office, they made it clear that the company has no separate company culture and everything is THE PARENT COMPANY WAY, meaning company comes first. This lack of proper HR is really no surprise seeing that disgruntled employees or fans created a Secrets page to anonymously discuss company or employee issues.

The office doesn’t even practice what it preaches. The current CEO of the company loves to bang on about “stakeholder-centricity, tolerable risk, and bias towards action”. In reality, the company culture is basically the same as the Parent Company, which is risk-averse, bureaucratic, and loves the status quo. The office HR was proud to point out everything in the company runs the PARENT COMPANY WAY. If that was not an issue, there is also the fact that my former manager was hired without HR involvement. First he received a phone call from his friend, the current head of marketing, to go for an interview. Then, he and the market head go out for drinks with the CEO and later have an actual office interview just for show.

Another problem at the the company office is that the CEO is too busy doing public appearances instead of doing his job at the office. While the CEO loves the media attention advocating design thinking and the stakeholder-mindset, in reality none of the things he talks about can be implemented in the office as planned due to the company culture being dictated by The Parent Company and because of his limited involvement at work. It would not surprise me that he will leave the company once the hyped website and mobile app revamp is completed.

Other problems I’ve noticed in the office to list are:

-Lack of close colleagues with them making excuses to not connect on Facebook/Social Media
-Random favouritism with my former manager giving more time to the younger female colleagues while being disrespectful to me
-Fake professionals claiming to stay in contact and then lash out with calls to “just move on” when contacted for advice
-Employees that are either extremely loyal to the company or extremely disgruntled with nothing in between
-Managers actually trying to undermine other projects because they didn’t think of the idea first
-De facto segregation with some departments populated by foreigners and others purely HK locals.
-Giving an employee a pay rise and bonus one year then accusing them of being godawful with threats to the job the following year.
– Weak-minded or desperate jobseekers willing to end friendships or blindly side with The Company for the sake of extra money.

Looking back, it was an OK move to leave that office. I am still recovering from the effects of working in a toxic office and all that job nonsense. Planning on relaxing before starting my new job later this quarter.

Blade Runner: Black Out 2022: Shinichiro Watanabe Crafts an Incredible Short Film

Nightmares in Celluloid

Shinichiro Watanabe got to direct a Blade Runner short for the upcoming movie, Blade Runner 2049. It rules.

Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 is a short that fits in between the original movie, which took place in 2019, and the new film. This short is part of a project to fill in key historical events that took place between the two movies. The last one showed the rise of the Wallace corporation, while this short’s aim is to explain the fall of the Tyrell Corporation. The event that would lead to the Tyrell Corporation’s destruction is referred to in the title of the short; Black Out.

On to the plot:

The short takes place three years after the end of the original film. We are quickly briefed on some events that happened since then. One, the Nexus 6 has been retired. In case you don’t remember, these were the model…

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Cathay Pacific’s Decline

Once upon a time the people of Hong Kong were proud of the airline they thought of as their own, Cathay Pacific. When you boarded the green and white aircraft with the attractive stewardesses in Manila or Bangkok you felt you were already at home. Then along came the accountants. They chopped everything. Economy class […]

via Cathay Pacific losses of $2.05 billion: What went wrong at a once great airline? — Sai Kung Buzz

Secret Empire: Omega 1: Discussion

Retcon Punch

By Ryan Mogge and Drew Baumgartner

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ryan: Every event in your memory left some sort of mark. When it comes to trauma, those marks are more like deep grooves. No matter how much you heal, or how much better off you are, you are changed by what has happened to you. In the wake of a rebellion against a group of fascists bent on world domination with the face of the most trusted man alive, you certainly can’t expect to move forward without being changed. In Secret Empire: Omega 1, Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino offer a mixture of back-to-normal plot points and artful rumination that operate quite differently but still offer the same themes of trauma and the scars left behind.

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Galton Voysey – Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

In response to the growing interest in the previous post about Galton Voysey and DealDash, I felt it would be a good follow-up to help readers learn more about the company given the limited information on their actual About Us page.

When was Galton Voysey Founded?

Galton Voysey was founded in 2014 by CEO Marine Aubrée Antikainen backed by William Wolfram, Founder & CEO of DealDash and Chairman of Galton Voysey.

What is the difference between Galton Voysey and DealDash?

DealDash offers shoppers the most fun & exciting way to save up to 90% off their favorite brands. Unlike ordinary penny auctions, DealDash’s model allows bidders who didn’t win the auction to buy the item for its regular price and get a full refund of all the bid credits. Galton Voysey brings outstanding brands to a market of discerning, quality conscious shoppers. Between building, acquiring and advising brands across a wide range of products categories, Galton Voysey has become home to 28 iconic labels. Products from Galton Voysey’s 28 leading brands are regularly featured on DealDash.

Who is the head of Galton Voysey?

William Wolfram is the Chairman and Marine Aubrée Antikainen is Chief Executive Officer of Galton Voysey.

How many employees work for Galton Voysey?

Galton Voysey employs over 200 people in total. Their headquarters is in Hong Kong, but they also have offices located in cities like Helsinki, Tokyo, Paris and New York.

What is Galton Voysey’s primary business?

Galton Voysey acquires and develops timeless brands leveraging the power of social media and data. The company has a portfolio of 28 brands. The brands house a wide range of product categories, the largest being chef’s knives, jewelry, leather goods and handcrafted rustic furniture.

What is the mailing address and phone number of Galton Voysey’s world headquarters?

Galton Voysey
Unit C 27/F & Unit A 17/F
Grandion Plaza
932 Cheung Sha Wan Road
Kowloon, HK

+852 6573 6334

Is Galton Voysey a Scam?

No, Galton Voysey is a legitimate company producing a variety of products sold on their brand website, on Amazon.com, and on Dealdash.com.  The company also has a strong and positive employee culture as noted on Glassdoor.com.

The Truth about Working at Cathay Pacific – Cabin Crew

Originally posted at CX Secrets. Edited for clarity.

Your Reasons for staying with Cathay Pacific – Cabin Crew

I would like to mention a few things that maybe many people never really thought about when they are working at CX (Cathay Pacific).

#1 Reminder: You are Working for Someone Else.

#1 Reminder: You are working for someone else. You are not your own boss at anything as long as you’re bound to him/her.

There is no such thing as “the ‘company’ changed this” or “the ‘company’ changed the policy”. We have to understand and avoid using “COMPANY” and “CX” because we cannot define it as a “group” and must understand that any decision is made by a single person.

What is your reason to stay with Cathay Pacific?

Ever ask yourself what is your reason to stay with Cathay Pacific?

Let’s break it down and review these details one at a time.

“I’m in it solely for the travel benefits”

Let’s define the company definition of “travel benefit”. We can all agree that discounted ticket prices are a major plus when compared to a normal passenger paying “full fare” for a ticket. However, we need to look at this in a more selective way.

As a Cathay Pacific cabin crew, the ticket price is reduced but the trade-off is the ticket is only available on “standby”. Being on standby defeats the purpose of a discounted ticket and therefore makes the travel benefit largely useless. Although getting a seat on a single flight with travel benefit is somewhat likely, it still will not be confirmed until the last-minute.

A good example to compare the standby ticket is when you see something you really want online for a very cheap price. Then, you add it to your online shopping cart only to find out that is “Out of Stock” on the checkout page at the very last-minute because you do not have any actual knowledge of its availability.

If you only desire “travel benefit”, then Cathay Pacific may not be for you. If you are wealthy, average income, or even below average income, you shouldn’t allow this “travel benefit” to lure you into joining Cathay Pacific cabin crew for the long run.

“I want to travel and see the world!”

Yes, we all want to travel and see the world! However, do not become a Cathay Pacific cabin crew as a way to do this. If you truly want to travel the world, buy full fare tickets, skip the standby tickets, don’t waste your time in the air, and stay grounded instead.

“I have a family or other expenses to take care of and need to stay in this job”

Sorry, but you are about to run out of luck with Cathay Pacific. Would you say Cathay Pacific started out as a solopreneur (a business owner who works and runs his or her business alone) or as an entrepreneur (a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit)? If money important in your daily life, then please try to do something else besides working in CX.

Cathay Pacific does not pay you well and will not pay you any better as the years go by unless the law changes. We hear that “competition is tough”, but Cathay Pacific always has a positive profit (profit does not mean losing money).

However, a new set of estimated earnings or growth rate is set at a higher rate every year, which always leads to a “loss” when really the numbers are just a goal. I encourage all you Cathay Pacific employees to leave CX especially if you have a family because this is not the job for you if you have that kind of responsibility. Find something else, don’t be afraid that it’s too late. If you need help, just ask, but don’t stay silent.

“CX is my dream airline to work for”

No, it’s not. LOL

Cathay Pacific Airways posted a net loss of HK$2.05 billion for the first half of this year, compared with a net profit of HK$353 million in the same period in 2016.
Cathay Pacific Airways posted a net loss of HK$2.05 billion for the first half of this year, compared with a net profit of HK$353 million in the same period in 2016.

“I like to be in the service industry and what better way to do it than in the air!”

It’s true that it’s pretty cool to gain the title of “Cabin Crew” or “Flight Attendant”, but let’s be honest here, depending on your reason, there are way too many other service industry jobs to do besides being an airline cabin crew.

Lately, there have been many discussions about Hong Kong cabin crews facing the problem with “retirement age” limitations. I just want to say vote for whatever proposals raises the highest retirement age.

The company newsletter says there will be a big “reduction in promotion” if the retirement age is raised. However, you are not going to receive a promotion anyways regardless of whether the retirement age is raised or unchanged, so just vote to raise the maximum retirement age.

Your service to Cathay Pacific

Your service to Cathay Pacific should not exceed anything between 1 day to 20 years. We can agree that most of the cabin crews are female. It has been said that girls are generally the “softer” part of the two main genders and I want to remind all female crew to take care of yourselves and never allow Cathay Pacific to interfere with your health.

The sky is beautiful but unless you are cockpit crew, you don’t even really get to enjoy any views and being in an aircraft all the time will both physically and mentally stress you out.

The average human lifespan is around 70-85 years. If you spend more than 20 years with Cathay Pacific, then you are literally reducing your lifespan by 25-30%+ from doing this job and it really is not worth it if you think about it.

Don’t serve others, be your own boss and make a dent in society.
-Sprites”