How To Prevent A Toxic Work Environment

Apr 3, 2018

No one likes a buzzkill, and often, the biggest buzzkill at work is a toxic leader.

Toxic leaders are people who take the purpose and enjoyment out of a job. Instead of helping, their behaviours can actually prevent top employees from doing their best work – even the most talented, driven ones.

Such leaders are often stubborn, too goal-oriented without being people-oriented, or downright dramatic. People may find them to be inauthentic or even a bit manipulative.

Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? If you think your team perceives you as someone like this, the definition can seem even worse.

Thankfully, there are ways to turn this image around.

The following are a few things you can do to take your leadership style from toxic to relatable and effective.

Trust Your Team

Before you express how you are working on yourself, you need to remind your team that you value them. In the workplace, the best way to do this is through trust.

Put responsibility back in their hands, however minor or major some tasks may be. This one simple gesture can have profound positive effects.

If you aren’t sure how to show your team you trust them, try these two things:

1. Stop Micro-Managing

Are you the person who checks in on someone constantly throughout the day? Are you always reminding your team of deadlines and department goals?

You may think you’re being helpful, but you’re really being a toxic leader. Lay off the pressure a bit and give your team room to breathe.

The less you check in on people, the less they feel like you are hovering over them or that someone is always watching. This relaxes your team and makes it easier for them to focus, communicate, and execute their tasks.

2. Celebrate and Motivate

Improving your micro-managing habits doesn’t mean you stop leading. It just means you use your time with your team in a different way that works better for everyone.

For example, a little bit of praise can do a lot more to boost morale and productivity than another deadline reminder will do. Your team knows the work they have to do and the goals ahead of them – but they need to know they are doing good work in their role, too.

Take time to praise different members or departments as a whole whenever you can. Don’t overdo this, though, because it may come off as inauthentic.

Find the balance between not saying anything positive at all and giving a compliment when it’s well-deserved.

As a good rule of thumb, stick to this rule: praise in public and criticize in private. In other words, make your compliments and a person’s achievements known to the team, but when it’s time to fix something, talk to that individual one on one.

Get Your Team to Trust You

The rule mentioned above, combined with other signs of trust in your team, starts to show people that they can trust you, too. This is the biggest sign that your progress towards not being a toxic leader is working.

To further encourage trust between you and those you lead, here are some behaviours to focus on doing more of:

Welcome Their Feeback

Feedback is essential in any team dynamic.

It’s what allows you to give the praise and suggestions that show trust, and it’s also what keeps your company functioning as best as it can.

When you welcome and facilitate feedback amongst a team, great ideas can happen. It lets people put their heads together and come up with the best way of doing things.

More so, it makes each employee feel like they have a voice. This can be during a group talk at the beginning or end of a meeting or in a more individualized setting. Either way, the door for feedback should always be open.

Be Responsive to Their Needs

It’s one thing to give your employees room to voice themselves and another to ensure they feel heard.

This doesn’t mean you have to please people 24/7. But if you haven’t been making any efforts to notice their needs, you’ve got some catching up to do.

Recognizing what your team is asking of you can relate to a variety of things. Some of them might be looking for more of a challenge and new opportunities, while others may have a workload that feels a bit overwhelming.

Not to mention, employee needs don’t always come down to tasks and responsibilities. It might be time to take a look at the expectations you’ve laid out for them from a culture perspective and find ways to improve in these areas.

Build a Better, More United Company Culture

At the end of the day, culture is everything.

As a leader, you’re the person everyone is looking towards to maintain a positive work environment. If you’re known to be a toxic leader, people stop paying attention and start becoming disengaged with the workplace as a whole.

Get them engaged in the workplace again by transforming your company culture in the most genuine way possible. Better trust and open communication will start turning things around, but there is still more work to be done.

Take the time to celebrate your team on a large-scale, even a catered lunch can go a long way in showing you appreciate the hard work everyone puts in.

However you choose to recognize these efforts, make sure a positive employee morale is consistently maintained and encouraged.

Go From Toxic Leader to Effective, Empowering Leader

Turning your leadership style around is not just about getting the people you work with to like you. It’s about getting them to love their work again and to become better, more effective employees in their respective roles.

That is what a true leader does. That is what you can do.

For more tips on how to go from toxic leader to an effective leader, click here.



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