To fully understand the extent of the problem with toxic behavior in the workplace, do a search on the terms toxic workplace, toxic leaders, toxic bosses, and toxic co-workers and dozens of articles and books will appear. Dealing with toxic employees is a costly problem, and without remediation, will only get worse.
When my children were growing up, I used to tell them that the difficulties they had in school would prepare them for the workplace, whether it was a harsh teacher or annoying classmates. And it’s true. Rarely is it the work that exhausts and demoralizes, but the people and personalities, especially those who never learned to work well with others.
Toxic supervisors and employees in an office can wreak havoc on productivity and impair job satisfaction, as well as disrupt the mental and physical well-being of productive personnel. Employers and management bear a legal and ethical responsibility for correcting and protecting everyone in the workplace from toxic actions and situations.
These are some examples of toxic workplace types and behavior:
Nearly everyone has encountered a hothead in the workplace. This person, usually a manager, believes they are entitled to raise their voice and express raw anger at their subordinates. Several years ago, the general perception and belief was that powerful people could express anger, also called hostility, toward subordinates. At that time, there was little to nothing an abused employee could say or do, short of leaving for a more peaceful environment somewhere else. The employees were, sadly, at the mercy of their boss.
Being a creeper refers to unwanted or inappropriate advances made by one employee to another. Statistically, most situations have involved a male co-worker or manager who creeps around or bothers a female employee and asks about or tells inappropriate information in the workplace. Not only is this behavior toxic, it is illegal. Sexual harassment is a serious problem and one of the most toxic workplace issues.
Shirking responsibility and leaving teammates and co-workers to pick up the slack is a serious toxic behavior that creates animosity and frustration. Whether it’s a manager who doesn’t sign timesheets on time, or a team member who isn’t pulling their share of the project work, shirkers cause undue strife and can lead to job dissatisfaction and even job turnover if left to their devices.
The Drama Llama
This person brings their personal baggage to work with them and piles it on others. Drama Llama doesn’t understand proper boundaries and won’t leave personal issues where they belong, at home.
Offices bring people together for more than 40 hours a week, and when excessive personal drama starts to interfere with focus, all sorts of problems arise. Employees who try to drag their co-workers into their personal problems and issues are creating a toxic situation that puts pressure and stress on everyone.
This is just a sample of the toxic workplace types that force talented employees to look elsewhere for jobs. Even worse, toxic workers can ruin the reputation of a great company. Word of mouth and poor reviews on websites that rate companies can keep talented people from wanting to work for a firm or organization.
In dealing with toxic workers, senior managers have to use insight and maturity to work with staff members who are making a workplace toxic, and find constructive ways to find solutions.
In 2018, expressing any of these toxic behaviors at work is unacceptable and intolerable. Also called ‘creating a hostile work environment,’ it is unprofessional and illegal to treat people without respect or decency. An organization’s Human Resource department should provide routine training for employees and leadership with codes of ethics clearly outlining unacceptable behaviors.
The entire company or organizations has a responsibility to eradicate toxic behavior from the workplace.