How a 360 degree survey can flag a toxic leadership culture

Businesses are currently facing unprecedented challenges in staffing. Earlier this year, the “Great Resignation” trend caused one million Australians to quit their jobs. Moving into 2023, the “quiet quitting” trend highlights the burnout and lack of motivation that many others feel. While some might argue that this is a sign to simply increase wages, in actual fact, one of the most effective tools that businesses have to address this risk is the 360 degree performance appraisal process.

Hiring, training, and maintaining high-performing employees is also more expensive than ever, making staffing one of the biggest areas that businesses will struggle to grapple with in 2023. Leadership is another challenge. Toxic leadership can crush morale, causing people to feel the need to leave the organisation, but it can have more subtle impacts that ultimately result in people leaving. Staff that don’t think they’re given the opportunity to progress their careers and take ownership of their work will also feel the need to move on to their next job. If they don’t leave, you’ll instead get an employee that is only willing to put in the bare minimum to get by – quiet quitting.

However, identifying a toxic leadership culture can be difficult at times. There are times when people won’t even realise that they’re in a toxic work culture (because the leaders present themselves as personable and get along with their teams on a social basis), or that those in the executive layer don’t realise that a leader is responsible for the toxic environment as they are able to escape the accountability by hiding the toxicity.   

What are the signs of toxic leadership, and how can they be prevented?

In an excellent blog on LinkedIn, Executive Leadership Coach, John S. Todorovic, highlights six traits of toxic leadership, and points out that not all of them are hostile:

  • Disrespects employees.
  • Shows favouritism.
  • Blames others for their own mistakes.
  • Doesn’t tell the truth.
  • Assumes they are the most important person.
  • Avoids listening to their people.

Todorovic then presents six ways to avoid toxic behaviour in leadership:

  • Encourage open communication.
  • Own up to your mistakes.
  • Get your team on board.
  • Take it easy with your people.
  • Provide a sense of security.
  • Take action.

This is where the 360 degree performance appraisal process comes in.

How the 360 degree performance appraisal process can help

One of the key values that the 360 degree performance appraisal process brings to an organisation in assessing its leadership and culture is transparency. Because employees can complete the survey about their bosses anonymously, they’re encouraged to be honest and forthright in their assessment. This will quickly raise red flags if any of the traits of a toxic environment are present, even if no one is actively aware that they’re working in one. For example, a culture of blame-shifting can often be perceived “on the ground” as being a culture of accountability, however, the survey will make it clear if the dynamics are, simply, that the leader shifts blame and is generally dishonest in their dealings in the office.

The information can be used to coach team leaders to facilitate a positive work environment, and it is generally helpful for the organisation in delivering a work environment in which open communication, genuine responsibility, and honesty are prioritised.

If you are concerned about staff churn, want to understand the dynamics that are causing it, and need to address it to keep your valuable people, contact MultiRater Surveys. Our 360 degree performance appraisal process will help you to pinpoint what is causing the underlying toxicity in the environment. This will help you deliver the changes that you need to create an environment that employees will never want to leave.