Creating a “nice” company culture is a laudable goal. But has your company taken “niceness” too far? Is there dysfunction simmering beneath the surface?
Pitfall: An insistence on politeness can result in a lack of honest communication, intellectual bravery, and accountability.
If you’re concerned your organization’s culture has veered into toxic niceness, try these tactics.
- Reset expectations.
Be explicit that you want people to give candid feedback and ask tough questions. This change won’t be easy so clearly explain the organization’s current state, future state, and how the transition between the two will work.
- Demonstrate vulnerability.
Don’t expect others to usher in a new era of truth-telling if you haven’t modeled the behavior first. You must be the first mover, demonstrating fallibility, and showing people that candor is rewarded.
- Provide air cover for people who speak up.
When people do express dissenting views don’t reprimand them — thank them.
This tip is inspired by the article “The Hazards of a ‘Nice’ Company Culture,” by Timothy R. Clark