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How to avoid a toxic organisational culture in the NFP sector

organisational culture

A toxic work culture in a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation might look different to a toxic work environment in the corporate sector. Nevertheless, NFP organisations are not immune to workplace politics, micromanagement, and bullying, despite wanting to make a positive difference in the world.

In this article, we discuss the kind of toxicity that is disguised by meaningful intentions, which can have far-reaching consequences. We explore what organisational culture is and why it’s important, the various types of organisational models that exist, and ways to improve the culture of your company.

So, what is organisational culture? 

Organisational culture is the shared values, beliefs, behaviours, and practices that shape the way a company operates. It is the collective personality of an organisation, and it influences how employees perceive their work environment, make decisions, and collaborate.

It goes beyond formal structures and processes; it encompasses the unwritten rules and social dynamics that guide employee behaviour and shape their overall work experience. “This can include teamwork, punctuality and employee benefits all the way through to transparency, accountability and psychological safety,”said Kelly-Ann Arthur, Senior Manager of the NFP Division.

What does a toxic NFP culture look like?

Toxicity within an NFP might be more difficult to spot due to the organisation’s altruistic image. It might arise from tensions within a passionate and often, emotionally invested team, which can affect decision-making and collaboration. Sometimes it can surface from the stress of limited resources, high expectations or a sense to fulfil the organisation’s mission. “It can even look like an organisation operating as a mini democracy, considering the perspectives of 20 different stakeholders, which can make the decision-making process extremely slow and even detrimental,” added Kelly-Ann.

Aspiring to be a TEAL organisation

A decade ago, former McKinsey & Company executive Frederic Laloux, began researching organisational models that combined productivity with personal well-being. He published his analysis in his book Reinventing Organizations where he used the term TEAL for the first time to refer to a new, healthier type of organisation that is constantly adapting to the present.

So how can we define TEAL organisations? TEAL organisations are centred on human capital. “They simplify hierarchisation and attach less importance to control, fostering a sense of responsibility among their workers. They offer continuous opportunities for training and professional and personal development,” Frederic explains.

organisational change

Source: Iberdrola

TEAL case study

One of Moir Group’s NFP clients, One Door Mental Health, is using the TEAL guidelines to improve their organisational culture, which includes considerations such as self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose. Kelly-Ann mentioned, “Over half of their employees have personal experience with mental illness. This ensures that their why/purpose is at the forefront of everything they do… They found that the principals of TEAL could support a thriving workplace culture; one that is high-performing and collaborative, which strengthens their mission to create a world in which people with a mental illness are valued and treated as equals,” she added.

How to improve your organisation’s culture

Reports show that organisational culture has a direct impact on performance and, more importantly, your employees’ wellbeing. Here are some ways to improve the organisational culture of your workplace.

  • Self-management: Give employees more autonomy and responsibility.
  • Wholeness: Create an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work.
  • Evolutionary purpose: Define a higher purpose for the organisation that goes beyond just making profits.
  • Trust and empowerment: Give employees the freedom to experiment, innovate and learn from mistakes.
  • Continuous learning: Encourage employees to explore new skills, experiment with different approaches and share their knowledge with others.
  • Transparent communication: Foster open communication channels across different levels of the organisation.
  • Decentralised decision-making: Allow decisions to be made at the level closest to where the knowledge resides.

Final thought

Would you like to learn more about finding the perfect job for you? Or are you seeking quality finance professionals for your organisation? Our Not-for-Profit is passionate about job satisfaction, organisational culture, and wellbeing. Contact the Moir Group team today for a chat.

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