A colleague is having trouble with the toxic work climate that he inherited. Several long-term employees are not only fighting the changes he’s trying to make, but there are also suspicions that even sabotage may be involved. It’s not pretty. We discussed strategies to “turn up the heat” and impose clear expectations with accountability that will either gain a behavioral change, a self-ejection or result in a forced exit.

As you can imagine, dealing with these personnel issues are consuming much of his time and attention as he can’t move forward with change while there are senior staff barriers. However; nor can he move forward without retaining the members of the team who do buy into the new principles. While it may feel as if you have to be absorbed with tending to the problems, to be successful you must also find time to nurture your treasures. While you are putting pressure on one set of staff, you need to be “showing the love” and building trust with those who you believe can help move you forward.

I likened this to the construction of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis – both sides were built simultaneously before the keystone section was ultimately put into place to finish the structure. If you spend all of your energy solving problems, you’ll complete only one leg and be left with nothing useful. Although it is challenging, you must simultaneously challenge and support as required to build the culture you desire.

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