Management Matters

How Dysfunctional is Your Workplace?

Date Posted: 07/14/2014

Are You Managing a Toxic Workplace?

We all usually work 5 days a week and 9 hours a day. Some of us even work longer hours which means that most of our waking hours are spent in the office. Have you ever observed what your employees look like when they come to work in the morning? If you see someone coming in with a smile and a bright cheerful “good morning” to everyone, it is safe to assume that the person is happy in the work environment or has had a great evening, is not hung over or having problems at home. However, if a person comes in looking tired, grumpy, depressed or in a bad mood day after day, you can certainly assume that this is an unhappy person wishing the workday has come to an end.

There are many reasons why your workplaces could be toxic. Unlike our dysfunctional families, toxic workplaces usually have the characteristics of a hostile environment, chaos resulting from poor decision making which leads to high levels of stress, dissatisfaction and lack of support. So, how do you know if your workplace is toxic?
Here are some signs to watch out for. If 2 or more signs are present then you might want to address these and make your workplace a healthier, happier place for all your staff to work in.

1. Unfairness – Favoritism leading to injustice in the workplace can be present among coworkers and bosses. Stealing ideas and taking credit for others’ work is often the cause. Unfairness also creeps in when an employee is doing more than one person’s task while receiving no appreciation at all and is even blamed for failures.

2. Dishonesty, immoral and illegal activities – Falsification of data, reports or documents as well as coworkers asked to cover or lie for someone else is a form of dishonesty in the work place too. Making up stories and accusing other people or starting rumors is also a sign of poor office dynamics. A coworker using sexual favours to get ahead at work or a boss using authority to take advantage or sexually harass someone is not uncommon and will not only lead to legal complications but also contributes greatly to a toxic work environment.

3. Management always pays attention to what employees do wrong – Managers can contribute to a toxic workplace by always criticizing employees and never praising them for a job well done. Also, if employees do not get much feedback from their superiors on their overall performance, morale and productivity suffers and only giving negative feedback just make the situation worse. Morale also gets affected when poor performers are kept on while the best talents with great potential are neglected or lose their jobs because their managers or leaders are threatened by these competent employees.

4. Failure in Leadership – An immature or incompetent leader or manager sometimes practices a “crab” mentality whereby instead of praising and promoting their staff for jobs well done, they take the credit themselves and try and keep everyone down. Some of the characteristics of such managers are:

• unreasonable expectations of productivity or goals;
• conflict avoidance;
• unwillingness to listen to others;
• lack of empathy and support;
• poor communication
• hypocritical and many more.

Managers who interact frequently and communicate directly are more likely to have the support of their employees. The best managers understand the triggers for their workers’ success and are able to correct things when productivity drops or conflicts arise. Our future newsletters will address these in greater detail.

5. Scapegoating – Blaming others for mistakes is the most common way people scapegoat others. Instead of admitting his or her role in the mistake, a bully or an incompetent manager constantly blames others for even the smallest mistakes and by blaming good and innocent employees can cause them to quit. This, in turn, overburdens the remaining personnel resulting in even more failures.

6. Departments are at war – In any organization different departments need to work together to make sure tasks are well completed by deadlines. When managers do not apply the same rules to everyone, it can be very challenging for departments to work together. Everyone operates under different rules and guidelines which only lead to jobs/projects failing. A lack of proper explanation of which department does what and how they need to work together shows a lack of organization on the manager’s part and is often the sign of a toxic work environment. Managers and supervisors need to have good communication skills to clearly define priorities, roles and expectations so that everyone in their department can achieve their goals in the organization.

7. Lack of Work-Life Balance can lead to chronic high stress and low morale. If an employee is always forced to choose between having a personal life and keeping his/her job, the person is reduced from a human being to just a machine which ultimately is going to break down and is the reason why many good hardworking and productive employees leave their jobs. Due to the stress at work, some employees are likely to develop physical or emotional illness that they don’t right away understand or become aware of right away.

Toxic workplaces are often products of toxic leaders. If you are uncertain of your current workplace situation, be aware that toxic situations may be acceptable and normal if you have been in it for a long time.

If you are certain that yours is a toxic workplace, then you need to act on it right away. Left unresolved, it can lead to poor performance, employees having health issues and loss of your best talented employees.

Need to give your business a shot in the arm by hiring some of the best talents from the Philippines? You can trust Ikon Solutions to find the best people for you and be certain that every detail of the hiring process is maximized in finding your ideal candidates.

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