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Toxic Work culture series: Behaviors That Affect Creativity

While there are many textbook definitions of creativity, CPR proposes the following definition for creativity. CPR defines creativity as taking an existing or new idea to generate an alternate solution to a problem. Viewing creativity as a means of solving business problems is essential for 21st-century entrepreneurs. For a leader, the main reason for cultivating a positive and creative work environment is to gather the information that can be used to solve problems strategically. This means getting in the game and being intentional about creating and solving business issues that will allow you to compete. So, in establishing a positive and creative work environment, it is essential to remove all barriers to negative work behaviors that can impede you and your team's creativity, thereby stunting business growth. Today, CPR focuses on three workplace behaviors that may appear innocent but wreak havoc. They are (1) Favoritism, (2) Exclusion, and (3) Criticism.

1. Favoritism

In society, we are used to the term "the teacher's pet," "my favorite---fill in the blank," and are customarily acceptable; however, in business, intentionally showing favoritism can cause unnecessary tension between members of your team. According to Forbes magazine, workplace friendships can lead to favoritism if one is a supervisor and the other is a subordinate. If you hire a friend or relative, be sure the person has the credentials and clearly understands; there will be no favoritism on display. They must stand on their merit. Also, try not to develop friendships with people you hire unless you've extended the same friendship to everyone on your team. Some organizations adopt a family culture. The goal is to treat everyone like members of the family. Depending on the industry or your personality as a leader, this may be to your advantage; however, if you have not adopted a family culture, be sure to treat everyone equitably, not necessarily equally. Some examples of favoritism are listed below:

  • the boss taking lunch with or hanging out with one employee outside of work

  • one employee receiving more opportunities, such as accompanying the boss to conferences, off-site client meetings, or training

  • the boss repeatedly excusing unproductive or distracting behavior for just one particular employee

As an entrepreneur, if your team has made this complaint or you recognize the actions above, you must stop this exchange immediately. Favoritism in the workplace is a massive distraction with dire long-term consequences.

2. Exclusion

Exclusion is only one aspect of the violence of racism, homophobia, misogyny, and bullying.

Exclusion at work is an act of social influence in which rules are forced onto targeted individuals or groups, barring them from participation. Targeted individuals or groups often lack the means to resist or change the exclusion rules set upon them adequately. As an entrepreneur, you can make a difference. Once you have decided to hire an employee, you must offer everyone the same respect and rights. At a minimum, allowing your employees the platform to speak candidly will be the first step. This will allow you to hear their concerns.

3. Constructive Criticism or positive feedback

Criticism is necessary for a healthy workplace, that is, constructive criticism or positive feedback. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that constructive criticism or positive feedback may be the best way to get the attention of someone who has become unproductive or complacent. As a leader, you must render constructive feedback to your employees while setting expectations instead of negative feedback or caustic criticism. To ensure your impartiality, do the following when rendering constructive feedback:

  • Be sure all hires are given functional job descriptions.

    • Include the term "ad hoc responsibilities." This will cover up when projects come up outside the employee's scope.

  • Initial feedback must be based on your agreed-upon assignments.

  • Use the same evaluation tool or method.

  • Attempt to give monthly formal feedback, don't allow your employee to learn of your discontent during a meeting

  • Informal feedback should be given in real-time when something occurs (this excludes nip-picking)

  • Feedback must be based on professional growth.

The three workplace behaviors explored today are the tip of the iceberg when considering the norms and values within an organization. Most organizational issues reside beneath the surface as opposed to the tip of the iceberg. As a small business owner, it is inherent for you to be intentional when stomping out a toxic workplace that emerges in a myriad of ways. At times, even the most perceived harmless behavior may result in toxicity. So Mind Your Business.

Warm Regards,


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