Toxic organisational cultures drive poor performance, claims Amnis

Organisations with toxic cultures are going to find it difficult to change their performance because anything they try will be resisted and undermined by the inertia within their organisation, according to the quality, innovation and productivity organisation, Amnis.

From its many years of experience of working with a wide range of organisations, Amnis believes that toxic cultures – which can be identified as having a general lack of respect for people, a strong people hierarchy, discord in the senior team and disengaged managers – are significantly affecting performance in some healthcare organisations.

Amnis’ work in the healthcare sector has shown that the key to long-term change is to tackle the barriers that toxic cultures can create by:

  1. Ensuring that the words that your top team use are aligned with how they behave

  2. Tackling any ‘tribal’ thinking and promoting team working

  3. Adopting an effective structure for implementing change that engages front-line teams

  4. Celebrating every success but accepting the occasional failure.

Amnis’ Mark Eaton explained: “It is as important to tackle an underlying toxic culture as it is to have a well thought out transformation strategy – and far more important than getting on with tactical improvement programmes using Lean Rapid Improvement Events – if you want to instigate real and lasting change.”

Characteristically, organisations with toxic cultures will struggle to change behaviours and improve performance. Moreover they will find that any investment they make in Lean or other transformation programmes will not lead to long-term improved performance, warned Eaton.

He added: “Toxic cultures also facilitate decreased patient safety and foster other risks to the organisation. Consequently, it’s not just financial performance that will suffer as a result of an organisation experiencing a toxic culture.”

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