What have you personally experienced that has made you feel like your company, team, co-workers, or bosses may be "toxic?" 

An utter lack of respect among people? Check.

Unhappy workers disrupting the workplace to the point of sabotage? Check.

A damaged reputation due to gossip and lies being spread? Check.

Not trusting anyone as far as you can throw them? Check.

I've seen them all. And whatever you've experienced, it's costly not only from a health and career standpoint, but it can be costly for your company's bottom line due to lost productivity and absenteeism. 

Having witnessed horrific cases of toxicity to the highest levels of the organizational chart, I'm now going to highlight eight hair-raising examples that may hit close to home for my readers.

1. Behavior that shames people. 

Derogatory shaming behaviors like sarcasm, potshots, and finger-pointing that humiliate others will prevent companies from fostering a respectful environment that leads to positive business outcomes.

2. Bureaucracy that stifles progress.

Toxicity has been found in organizations where bureaucracy drags, things take forever to move forward, and the approval process is handed off to several layers of management before a decision is made.

3. Micromanagement that sucks the air out of people.

Reason No.2 above has plenty to do with this one. Bosses who dominate people, decisions, and processes often lead by fear and control. This is often because people aren't trusted to make their own decisions. In the end, micromanagement derails team motivation and creativity.

4. Blame grenades that are tossed in every direction.

"I'm not responsible for that--go blame someone else," you'll often hear in work cultures devoid of accountability. People will deflect responsibility and cast blame elsewhere to protect themselves at all cost.  

5. Bosses who don't care about employee wellbeing.

There's little or no concern for work-life balance. People are faced with sacrificing their personal lives for the job, which is commonly evidenced by 50-hour-plus workweeks, little or no vacation time, and 24/7 availability for work communication. 

6. Gossip that spreads like a disease.

Disgruntled workers actively act out their unhappiness by spreading inflammatory rumors. At worse, gossip in the workplace can take on the form of workplace violence, which is essentially a form of attack against another person. This should be dealt with swiftly. 

7. People who think that they're above it all.

"I don't need to go through that training. I know everything there is to know," may be a remark you'll hear by know-it-all peers or co-workers who feel entitled. They never listen or ask questions; they reject the role of a learner among their team members and that each person has something important to teach them. 

8. Employees that are treated like cogs.

Employees are viewed as worker bees and considered to be objects or expenses rather than assets. After all, in toxic workplaces that don't value human beings, the motive for hiring them was purely for productivity and profit. As a result, you'll encounter high levels of stress, turnover, absenteeism, and burnout.

What's true for you?

Published on: Nov 15, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.