What is Toxic Management?

CoachHub · 18 April 2022 · 8 min read

Toxic management can be defined as a management style that destroys an individual’s dignity, self-confidence, or effectiveness through remonstrances, daily spikes, or inappropriate speeches. Their traits create destructive, degrading and devaluing working conditions that can have significant psychological and physical consequences for the employees. Most organizations are dotted with toxic managers, making them seem like war zones. Individuals’ ability to deal with them in a corporate culture significantly impacts their careers. Having the ability to recognize and understand their toxic behavior is key in protecting yourself. Toxic managers are part of life and how their traits affect you depends on the skills you develop to deal with them.

A toxic manager destroys morale, diverts the workforce’s energy, impairs retention, and interferes with cooperation and information sharing. Their toxic behavior distorts the organization’s culture and affects people in numerous ways. To improve an organization’s culture and functioning, the senior management and HR need to take the necessary steps to find the solution and contain them. This will spare the company serious damage to its diversity and inclusion by recognizing their personality traits, placing them in positions that will do them the least harm, arranging coaching for them and letting go of some managers.

In this article, you will learn how to avoid becoming a scapegoat, survive their assaults and give narcissistic managers the things they need to be satisfied with you. It also includes management trends that will help HR identify leaders with toxic behaviors before they do serious damage. Also, it includes some strategies for dealing with each type of these toxic bosses.

The risks of toxic management

Toxic management results in numerous psychosocial risks. Stress at work and absenteeism are the most common, but the consequences stretch far beyond. They include:

  • Burn-out: It results in intense fatigue, negative feelings about one’s work and losing efficiency
  • Bore-out: The boredom and loss of professional sense results in fatigue at work, making employees feel worthless and interfering with their concentration
  • Brown-out: This is demotivation and disengagement at work resulting in professional questioning, feelings of uselessness and deterioration of relationships at work
  • Stockholm syndrome: This is a strong attachment to the toxic manager who generates hostility from employees towards the hierarchy after the management model has changed

How to recognize a toxic manager?

Here are the most common types of toxic bosses whom you may encounter in your company.

Cold manager

The cold manager is also called the cold fish and he uses all possible means to achieve their goals. This type of management shows no emotional intelligence or empathy in the work environment. Their personal life is dominated by feelings and emotions, whereas their professional life is dominated by rationality. This creates an overload of work that burns out the employees and it exhausts them. They tend not to focus on innovation management and this discourages creativity in the workplace. Also, the mental health and physical health of the employees are of no interest to him.

Snake manager

A snake manager is obsessed with greed and power and he uses the world to meet their personal needs. He is a manipulator, he sets unrealistic goals and these are from his lack of humility.

Glory seeker manager

The glory seeker manager craves attention and their glory at all costs, regardless of whether they have taken part or not. He would do anything to gain all the fame, including taking all the merits and showing off himself. This type of management style has no room for employee initiatives and in a holacracy, they will still take all the credit. A glory seeker manager celebrates the employees’ success, but it is entirely on them when they are at fault.

Puppeteer manager

This is a control freak. He never admits his mistakes. He is omnipresent and does not trust his staff.

Monarch manager

Diversity in the workplace is common in many organizations and it brings about different ideas and perspectives. A monarch manager dominates the entire organization with their ideas and they create a dictatorship that leaves no room for collective intelligence. Also, he uses direct or indirect threats to achieve their objectives.

The incompetent manager

These bosses care about employee development but are not always present to provide leadership, coaching or support. In remote management, employees are used to absentee bosses, but it will be difficult to get a hold of if there are questions or feedback that need to be addressed.

How to deal with an incompetent manager

To deal with an absentee manager, you need to adapt to their schedule and ensure effective communication. Since they don’t respond to emails, ensure that you stick to one topic and use easy-to-read points. Instead of sending them an email, it is better to schedule a 15-minute video chat with them.

The micromanager

A micromanager is obsessed with closely monitoring every element of their staff’s work and is controlling even in the digital culture. A micromanager tends to act like this because they think the employees are not accountable and they cannot deliver the desired quality or quantity of work. Conversely, employees feel they are not empowered or trusted enough for them to do their best.

Dealing with a micromanager

Those who work independently find a micromanager boss to be frustrating. To deal with a micromanager, you should start by slowly gaining their trust by giving frequent updates and ensuring you are delivering your promises. With time, they will begin trusting you and loosening their grip.

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Rigid managers

Rigid managers do things their way. They are compulsive, which means they fear being wrong and their world is that of ‘should’ and ‘should have.’ They use their rigid hierarchies to run organizations and they try to influence their way into the liberated company. Most of the time, they feel that their autonomy is threatened, which makes them push back as their defense mechanism. By doing so, they step on other people’s rights. Rigid managers feel that their way is the best and they don’t listen to other people.

Aggressive managers

An aggressive manager perceives the world as a dog-eat-dog society in which people are out there to get you. In their eyes, you are either the prey or the predator. Not only are they narcissistic, but they also lack empathy, they don’t consider the wellbeing of others and don’t ensure agile project management. An aggressive manager kills creativity in the work environment, which makes it difficult for frugal innovation to prosper. A severe variant of a narcissistic manager is a bully, who derives their pleasure from intimidating the workforce. Aggressive individuals view themselves as victims. They use their aggressive behavior as self-defense for the wrongs they have gone through. They find it difficult to modulate the intensity of their feelings. Thus they ignore other people’s feelings and rights.

How to deal with a toxic manager?

1. Recognize the toxic nature of a manager

Identifying the toxicity of a manager is the first step in recognizing toxic management and driving for a managerial change. This situation is crucial and there is no point in turning a blind eye and letting it go unnoticed. Over time it may worsen and undermine the performance of the company. HR trends should adopt an active and attentive listening to the needs and feelings of your employees. Such as hardship at work, overwork, or even professional stress. The best thing to help the staff recognize a toxic manager is by instilling confidence in them to encourage them to verbalize their problems and emotions. Effective communication is key to and there should be regular individual interviews that will allow the employees to air out their opinions and challenges. This method has been used in workplace diversity and has yielded results. After the problem has been raised, those in charge should have neuromanagement to listen to the employees with empathy and without being judgmental. Passing judgment in the process will make the workforce feel untrustworthy, which can result in challenging the entire process.

2. Open the discussion

The next step is to exchange with the toxic manager. Great caution should be put into practice. The techniques of nonviolent communication are important so as not to worsen the situation. There should be a balance between the matrix management and the toxic manager. HR should take a neutral approach in dealing with the situation and remain emotionally stable. Using performance management, the narcissistic manager’s stock should be taken. These may include how he feels in the company? Is he having personal problems? How does the vision himself in the organization? How is he managing remote employees? After listening to his side, then talk about the unspoken and the discomfort felt by the employees. The topic is to manage the conflict the best possible way without pointing fingers or incriminating him. Finding a win-win solution is ideal since everybody will be happy. It is up to the HR, employer, and other managers to make the most appropriate decision in this situation.

3. Try professional coaching

It is complicated to prevent and manage conflicts. While every problem has a solution, it is important to address the problem immediately when it arises. The leader or HR should seek the services of experts so that they can be coached to master non-violent communication and better manage conflicts and gain leadership. This can be learning soft skills, which are essential in transforming toxic managers. Also, they can be coached on how to ensure diversity management in the company becomes successful. After getting a solution, it may be interesting to register your toxic managers for managerial coaching sessions. The goal is to make them aware of the situation and help them develop more managerial skills through managerial innovation.

Final thoughts

Toxic managers and their bad traits are a part of many organizations. However, their organization must intervene and ensure that they transform their toxic behaviors. They cannot do this on their own and they require the help of experts such as CoachHub. We offer managerial coaching sessions and we teach soft skills such as accommodating female leadership and how they can best incorporate diversity in their work environment. Even with all of these coaching sessions, the toxic leaders should be willing to transform so that the coaching program can be effective. At CoachHub, the goal is to make them aware of the situation and help them develop appropriate managerial skills through managerial innovation.

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