6 Toxic Work Behaviours To Note In Your Employees That Can Destroy Your Business Organization
Table of Contents
1. No accountability
These workers (or managers) don’t exercise responsibility and own up to “their stuff” when “their stuff” is at fault. Remember the old saying “For every finger that you point at someone, there are three pointing back at you”?
They are often critical, can’t admit to their own mistakes, are never wrong, and will blame their colleagues (or subordinates, if it’s a manager) when something goes wrong, even if it’s not based on reality. They are simply not accountable for their own actions. They are more concerned with preserving their reputation and saving face.
This example is quite astonishing if you find yourself sharing space with such a person. They will go way out of their way to sabotage anything you’re trying to get done, putting obstacles in your way, and spreading rumors (gossiping).
There’s usually a personal vendetta at work here. Perhaps you’re up for a promotion and your co-worker, who thinks he is more deserving, didn’t get the job. Now he’s out to make your life miserable and spin a negative campaign against you.
Now you’re left with covering your bases to protect yourself — writing more detailed emails than usual, CC’ing and BCC’ing more people than normal, documenting everything, and making backup copies of stuff in the event a false accusation comes your way.
3. Negative cliques and gossipers
One clear sign of a toxic work environment is a group of disgruntled employees actively acting out their unhappiness.
They are quick to gossip, and even quicker to crucify leadership and company direction. They’re basically corporate teenagers whose time with the company is about to expire, and who now rely on each other for strength and safety.
Keep a close eye out for their whereabouts, especially in a remote setting; they may go out of their way to befriend new hires to vilify someone or something and spread their cancer.
As an employee, the feeling of watching your back is never a pleasant one. It means you either fear or loathe your manager and facing him or her during the day probably means bad news because the exchange is never positive.
This type of manager will create a toxic culture of distrust where it’s not safe to disclose information, offer input, or work in close collaboration.
Job survival under this type of dictatorship is day-to-day, due to the unpredictability of the environment. Confiding in a co-worker is also risky — they may really be your enemies who’ve built alliances with toxic management to win their favor. And trusting your manager is just corporate suicide.
Senior leaders and HR chiefs need to keep an eye out for micromanagers close to the front lines and proactively filter them out of the organization before losing valued employees.
Picture a sensitive situation in which a manager will not communicate directly with a subordinate or peer, but will gladly reach out to communicate with a third person, which can lead to that person (who may not even be involved in the situation) becoming part of the problem.
Sometimes this manager will even play the two people against each other. Welcome to triangulating. This is a typical dysfunctional pattern of managers who don’t have the courage to deal directly with an issue by communicating honesty to diffuse the situation.
6. Toxic communication patterns
This may be the most prevalent sign of a toxic workplace, and it runs everywhere — across functions and between different departments, with customers, and certainly between employees and managers. It is displayed in various forms which include the following:
Lack of communication:
Basically, staff gets word of major developments that affect their areas of responsibility after they have been implemented (surprise!). Important decisions come mostly through passive means like emails, text, messaging apps, but never in person.
Hiding behind your digital comfort zone:
The digital era is causing a slow degeneration in our ability to verbally communicate. The speed of communicating in 280 characters or less is certainly convenient but diminishes the ability to verbally engage colleagues and customers when necessary. If this rings true for you, it means courageously stepping out from behind your digital comfort zone to deal directly with the unpredictability of human emotions. This is what generations past used to do, and it’s often the quickest route in cutting through conflict or setting clear expectations with intention if you’re a leader.
Failure to listen:
Effective communication isn’t just about talking, but intuitively listening by taking the pulse of the organization. It means asking questions and gathering feedback in order to make good decisions. This is what great leaders do.
This is typically a sign of control or shady behavior. It’s also a red flag: If someone can’t be transparent, there’s usually something else going on they don’t want you to know.
It is the responsibility of every manager and employee to watch out for each other and ensure that toxic behaviors are dealt with swiftly. To counter toxic behaviors in your midst, expose the problem, talk about it, and campaign against it with those who are in your corner. And be ready to leave if the workplace becomes a hostile environment. That’s when it’s time to cut ties with your company.