What to do when you have a toxic manager on your team


DISCLAIMER: This is in NO way a political post.  I do not identify myself as a Republican or Democrat.

When I first saw this tweet, I thought to myself, “Surely this is a fake.”  With all of the hoopla in the political scene, I tend to be cynical when I see anything that’s too far right or left.

Unfortunately, when I went to the official Twitter page, I learned this was not a hoax.

The tweet references one of the more “famous” White House members Omarosa who was also a former contestant on the NBC series Apprentice.  If you’d like to know more about the story, search the news outlets.  I’d like to use this time to talk about TOXIC MANAGERS.

Top 3 Signs of a Toxic Manager

  1. Typically a narcissist who takes credit for any win, deflects any mistakes, and everything is about them.
  2. They love the spotlight and steal it when they can.
  3. Tend to bully their team, coworkers and anyone else they can get away with.

Toxic managers can lead to an array of issues in organizations.  I have found too many of them are left to widening spans of control that eventually allows their cancer to spread in an organization.  Typical symptoms of their tyranny is a loss of production, morale and engagement.

So what do you do when you realize you have a Toxic Manager on your team or in your organization?  There are two options:

Confront the problem

In this case, confront the person.  One of the telling signs of a toxic manager is their tendency to bullie everyone and anyone in the organization.  That has to stop.  Calling a toxic manager out on their BS usually sends a metaphoric shot over the bow letting them know the behaviour will no longer be tolerated.  Unfortunately, too many people allow these bullies to spread their toxic nature throughout the organization because they are too afraid to confront the source of the issue.  There are rare cases when the individual may not be aware of their behaviour so this approach allows you to coach them to greatness.

Coach out

This is the pretty easy solution although getting there can be tricky.  Unfortunately, too many organizations are crippled by the fear of firing anyone considering the litigatory environment most businesses operate in.  As a consultant, when faced with this concern, I usually ask a business owner this question: Is it your job to protect your team or protect the asshole affecting your team?  It’s kind of direct but I have found it helps the owner put things in perspective.  Document what you need to in order to satisfy any potential litigation concerns but pull the trigger and get them out.

The longer you prolong either of the options above, the greater the chance is that your organization will lose great talent, your morale will bottom out and all of this affects your client experience.

If while reading this you immediately thought of someone, don’t waste any more time and start identifying which option above is the best for you, your team, and the organization.  Your client will thank you!

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