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Understanding Toxic Workplace

Understanding Toxic Workplace

Toxic workplaces have become a hot subject of conversation in the business world and it is a common problem faced by many of the organizations, which has to be handled very professionally. What is a toxic workplace? The definition of a toxic workplace is “a workplace that is marked by significant drama and infighting, where personal battles often harm productivity”. Toxic workplaces are often considered the result of toxic employees, or workers who are motivated by personal gain (power, money, fame or special status), use unethical, mean-spirited and sometimes illegal means to manipulate and annoy those around them; and whose motives are to maintain or increase power, money or special status or divert attention away from their performance shortfalls and misdeeds.

Toxic employees neither are loyal towards their company nor recognize a duty to their organization. They float all ethical conduct for their personal gain. These employees are slaves to nepotism.

The most common characteristics of a Toxic work place are:

1.         Severe communication glitches

A smooth communication is vital for any organization’s success. You can smell severe communication problems in those companies which have toxic workplace.  These organizations will have lack of communication or absolutely no communication at all. Communication is very crucial for healthy organizations and without effective communication, working together to accomplish the organization's tasks is virtually impossible.

2.         Irregularity in following company policies.

If the company’s policies are not followed, confusion, discrepancy and poor quality follow. Customers, vendors and employees wind up hating dealing with the company and its staff.

3.         Egocentric leaders.

Egocentric leaders live for themselves and are selfish in nature. They usually are “I am okay, you are not okay” type of people. They consider themselves more talented than others.  They take recognition for others’ successes and manipulate others (and information) to ensure that they look good. Others don’t really matter to them. They don’t give much importance to teamwork and trust, thus resulting in poor inter-personal relationship and organizational conflicts. Toxic leaders might not be at the top of an organization; they often crop in mid-level management and even in front-line supervisory roles.

4.         Simmering dissatisfaction.

A toxic work environment radiates adverse communication across the company and in numerous forms. Employees often moan and criticize. Blame culture will prevail across the organization. Ultimately, team members start to withdraw, stop interacting with others (except in a very defensive manner) or leave the organization.

5.         Effects on body and mind.

Toxic workplace is unhealthy and damaging to those who work there. The employees who work in toxic work environments (especially over a long period of time) start to experience problems with their personal health. These employees experience sleeplessness, weight gain and other personal health problems.

Many employees will become discouraged and this can lead to depression. Some become more short-tempered, impatient and exhibit problems managing their irritation. Others experience anxiety and a general sense of fear when they think about work. These symptoms can lead to increased use of alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal substances.

Strategies to deal with Toxic People

Once you've recognized a problematic person, alter your expectations so you're not blind-sided by their actions, and create some emotional distance.

Goulston says, “ Most difficult people provoke us because they're often hiding something--a lack of competence, a lack of ability or something they were supposed to do and didn't do, and by provoking us, either from anger or whining and complaining, what they often try to do is distract us from exposing whatever that thing is that they're hiding.”

Remain calm and centered and this will make difficult people catch themselves and they will start to back off.  Finally, you have to remove toxic people from your business and life. In order to attain result, we have to keep these employees out from our personal life. This will attract positive workforce and the organization will grow faster.

Ganesh Kelagina Beedu Shenoy
HR Manager
Sodexo I Teyseer
Doha - QATAR

2 years ago

By Ganesh

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Jake houlston said....

This article is beautifully written. The thoughts of the writer is so artistically captured in words. The different characteristics are very well divided into points. It is a very helpful article. Looking forward to more articles written by the writer.

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