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How Can Leaders Deal with a Toxic Work Environment?

  • 22nd Dec'21

I worked my way up to achieve a fulfilling career and life. Today, I'm Fortune 500 board member, and I feel blessed to have attained such a massive accomplishment. However, let me tell you the journey is constantly filled with several challenges and setbacks. But the thing I want to discuss is something I have experienced myself. And honestly, I wouldn't want anyone to go through with it.

I'm talking about the toxic work environment that rarely gets attention. Toxic work environments affects many people, and still, barely anything significant has been done to counter the symptoms and causes. It is high time toxic work environments get highlighted and discussed thoroughly until organizations and their leaders can develop leadership skills to grow towards a safe and healthier work environment.

However, when dealing with a toxic work environment, some fundamental problems prevent things from getting sorted. One of those things is the inability to detect the signs of a toxic work environment. Another essential thing is the lack of awareness and experience to handle such situations. Therefore, I'm sharing some key details to determine and detect the toxic work environment and deal with it. So, let's start with the significant problem itself, i.e., understanding the signs of a toxic work environment.


Signs of A Toxic Work Environment

There are many signs of a toxic workplace, some more obvious than others. Here are some of the most common symptoms of a toxic environment which leader should take up as leadership challenges to conquer:


Weak Communication

Communication is vital to any successful organization. Conflicts, misunderstandings and poor quality of work can arise when managers and employees do not actively listen or communicate with one another. And while it may seem obvious, intelligent  and empathic leaders know that poor communication can turn into a toxic place to work.

Leaders and managers need to avoid common mistakes made by leadership during a change and look out for signs of misunderstanding in their work environment. Signs include:


  • Poor listening.

  • Passive-aggressive language between colleagues.

  • Lack of clarity on projects.

  • Employees receive different messages from supervisors and managers.


Bad Leadership

A destructive and toxic leader can significantly impact employee productivity and engagement. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), six out of ten employees cite toxic managers and leadership as the reason for leaving their company. A toxic leader hates to be wrong and tends to downplay the achievements of its members. They create division within the team, have favorites, micromanage employees, disrespect members, and neglect their needs.


Concerns, Exclusion, and Gossiping Behavior

It's healthy for employees to bond with one another in the workplace, but forming strong groups where other employees on the sidelines are uncomfortable could lead to an unnecessary division of employees. They have a general disinterest in anyone outside their group unless it involves gossip and rumors.


High Turnover

It is not usual for employees to leave their jobs searching for better career opportunities. Still, leaders need to handle high turnover rates, as this can be a sign that something is harming the workplace and its employees. High turnover can also have a financial impact on a company.


No work-life balance and burnout

Employees have to draw the line between work and private time without feeling guilty. A healthy work-life balance helps employees reduce stress and prevent burnout in the workplace. Therefore, companies should watch out for alarming signs that employees are overworked. or not working enough and encourage them to take some time off.


Limited Career Growth

Career growth is significant to employees, and if employers don't offer members advancement opportunities, they end up with unmotivated and disinterested employees. 


How Can Leaders Deal with a Toxic Work Environment?

Following are some critical ways leaders can deal with a toxic work environment.


Build a Network of Trusted Employees

When leaders and managers do not trust the skills and experience of their employees, it leads to micromanagement, which leads to distrust and doubt among employees. On the contrary, if leaders see employees as trustworthy, they will return that faith in them. Apart from this, leaders and managers must openly listen to employees' opinions about their work, management, and office environment. Asking for feedback is a great way to enable employees to voice their concerns and better understand their needs.


Repeat Important Goals

Employees must align themselves with the company values ​​and goals. The importance ​​and goals must remain clear and transparent so that everyone is on the same page. It's also easier to shape and nurture a specific workplace culture when setting goals.


Train Leaders to Become Better

The current leaders must guide and encourage your employees to do their best in their roles. A great way to ensure that great leaders are present is to host professional development courses and seminars that address the root cause of toxic leadership. These courses can also attract emerging business managers and improve the skills of current managers.


Promote the Work-Life Integration

To create a healthy work-life integration that works well for them, employers can implement workplace practices to encourage and support employees in setting the healthy boundaries they need. Employers could offer remote and flexible work schedules to help employees work at a pace that suits them best. Leaders should also encourage employees to focus on productivity rather than hours on a specific project. These tactics help create balance and teamwork within the organization.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds achieve their careers and life aspirations. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.

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