What a fun group of toxic traits I’m passing on today. Yeah, no. OK, they’re pretty miserable, but you will likely see them in just about any toxic environments.
This group rounds out my Top 20 that I have unloaded in the last few blogs.
16.Management pits employees against one another. Monday morning leadership meetings devolve into cockfighting rings.
I actually had a manager tell me he liked to see employees fight. I interjected with a comment that was essentially half-correcting/half repositioning his comment by saying ‘Yeah, iron sharpens iron’ or something like that. He told me ‘Nah, I think it’s fun to see people argue and it’s good for business.’ He amazingly cited Lincoln’s ‘Team of Rivals’ concept as his guide. Well, a few thoughts on that. The nation was in a Civil War and Lincoln was trying to manage a peaceful navigation through a bloody time in our history, not schedule cage matches for management. DEBATE is good. Shouting matches? Not so good!
17. Turf wars, power plays, and survival trump productivity and excellence. The bottom line is that no one is thinking about the bottom line.
The beautiful thing about good cultures is that, much like driving on an open highway, you have few distractions. Everyone is operating by the same rules. In toxic environments, many people are lowered to be watching everyone else to either add to the chaos or fight for their own survival.
18. Secrecy is a superpower. Useful information that could benefit everyone—especially the interests of the organization—becomes part of a game of “keep away.”
Information is currency. You can use it to help yourself and the lack of it can be used to bankrupt others in toxic environments. You will often see people blindsided by ‘new information’ that really isn’t new, but has actually been withheld as a way to damage someone or something.
19. Ethics are seen as a roadblock to getting things done. Doing things the right way becomes inconvenient.
The organization may stand for principles in their value statements (if they have one), but the only thing that is really followed is ‘How can we get this done today?’
20. Sleeplessness, ulcers, high blood pressure and heavy drinking become common. People literally become sick of their jobs.
My biggest takeaway from my toxic experience is from those who suffered far worse than me. I remember seeing the stress on their faces, the drinking problems that developed and the trips to the ER and the doctors visits that some people took when the stress got to be too much.
All some leaders wanted to do was either ignore the signs or use a power move to get these people out of the way.
Organizations can and should do better. Nobody should have to put up with these behaviors and no one is productive when they’re putting up with this schtick. OK, now that you’ve read my top 20, what did I miss?