Toxic Managers: How to manage one

Toxic Managers: How to manage one

Having a supervisor who encourages you to work hard is a dream come true. One of the most common reasons for people to leave their jobs is because of their boss. So, if you keep feeling that your supervisor isn't supportive of you or your work and instead finds a way to criticize it constantly, it's probably not in your brain. Perhaps the issue is with your boss.


Sure, you can ask your co-workers whether they share your feelings, but how your boss treats you can make or break your motivation at your current job. Not only that, but it can also have an impact on your mental health.


Fear, poor communication, and high turnover are signs of a toxic workplace. Employees feel undervalued, bullied, and possibly harassed. Employees are not respected or appreciated by their leaders and managers. Toxic habits include embarrassing individuals in front of their colleagues, criticizing team members, and blaming others when things don't go as planned.


Toxic bosses have a unique set of powers. They have the unique capability to demotivate and de-energize a whole team, department, or organization. They have a unique capacity to disconnect us from work that would otherwise be meaningful and satisfying. The uncommon ability to transform high-performing individuals into incompetent fools who should be grateful to have a job.


What are the signs of a toxic boss?

Here are some indicators that you have a toxic boss:


1. They Constantly Reject Your Suggestions


Sure, your boss constantly emphasizes the importance of new ideas. When you try to share some with your team to better understand how they work, they don't seem to care about your perspective or that their method is outdated. Furthermore, they are only interested in maintaining the status quo.


2. They Participate in their Favourite Games

The first criterion for a manager leading a team is that no prejudice based on personal preferences should be allowed. On the other hand, your supervisor is playing favourites if they repeatedly praise one individual for the identical work that you and that person are performing.


3. They criticize you when you seek assistance

Let's imagine you have reservations about a project that has been assigned to you or are unsure how to proceed. As a result, you contact your manager to clarify your concerns. On the other hand, instead of assisting you and explaining your questions, your manager criticizes you for not understanding them.


4. They Create Irrational Expectations

Does your supervisor require you to work long hours after the office has closed? Do they ask you to work weekends or phone you at strange hours outside business hours? Or do you want every report to be flawless without providing you with the opportunity to improve?


5. They Never Notice Or Recognize Your Achievements

If you're doing a wonderful job at work and accomplishing tasks ahead of schedule, but no one saves your employer notices, it could be a problem with them. Worse, if you receive comments from others, your boss may dismiss the compliment or claim credit for your ideas. When people compliment you, they may try to move the focus away from you.


6. They not only refuse to own their flaws, but they also blame them on you

Some supervisors have difficulty admitting (or even recognizing) their weaknesses, even while they like criticizing others for minor mistakes. Furthermore, if the situation becomes out of hand, they will follow the lead of the police.


7. Rather than dealing with situations professionally, they throw fits

There may be moments when your squad is under a lot of strain and isn't doing well. Instead of coming up with solutions, your boss starts yelling over the tiniest of details. It not only renders the environment unproductive but also makes it dangerous.


8. They are more concerned with numbers than with employee well-being

Suppose your boss continually asks for results or progress reports but never asks how his or her subordinates are doing. In that case, it might lead to emotions of resentment because they believe you don't care about their well-being. Requesting time off is never easy, and your manager would much rather prefer it if your personal life is non-existent. Employees need a healthy environment to work correctly. A leader who lacks emotional intelligence should not be a leader.


9. They don't want you to make any mistakes. Whatever the case may be

Making mistakes all the time isn't a good way to make a good impression. However, you are constantly frightened of making mistakes and getting into trouble. Even if your manager's expectations are unclear, any failure conveys the idea that you're incompetent, which isn't the case. They also make sure sure that the effort you deserve is overlooked. Nobody is perfect. We all learn from past mistakes,


10. They Are Rude

Your boss has a habit of saying things that surprise you. They make remarks that are condescending or simply disrespectful. Or, even worse, they wait to send you passive-aggressive comments masquerading as feedback while appearing to be friendly in person. They minimize your worth or make you feel insignificant. They may even make fun of you. The sense of tone one uses when addressing issues should be mindful and careful enough not to hurt employees. When writing a message or email, make sure you are not aggressive but firm and use the correct vocabulary and tone with whomever you wish to address.


Related: Gaslighting examples


How do you deal with a toxic manager?

As the saying goes, most employees don't leave firms; they leave their bosses. A direct supervisor can impact how an employee views their job and how motivated they are.


Leaving the firm may not be an option when coping with an unduly hostile boss. The only option left to you is to tackle the toxic connection on your own, taking care not to create extra workplace drama. However, coping successfully with a toxic leader is not always easy.


There are a couple of possible methods for handling the problem with the least amount of drama

Seek clarification

We may not alter others, but we can change ourselves. When working in a toxic atmosphere, it's critical to seek clarity and communicate clearly. Always work on your emotional intelligence levels where the environment does not absorb you, and try to follow up specific instructions with an email. Be the change you wish to see in the world by demonstrating courage. - Dentsply Sironas Tasniem Titus

Whether to depart or stay in the organization is a decision that must be made.

The first step in dealing with a toxic company is to make a reasonable decision about whether to stay or go. If you're stuck, consider how emotionally and mentally the situation is hurting you. If you decide to stay, you'll need to devise some coping methods to counteract the bad psychological impacts of their activities.

Make an effort not to take it personally.

It's easier said than done but allowing harsh words to pass you will only benefit your mental health. What could your boss say to ruffle your feathers if you're entirely comfortable with who you are and know how hard you work? Whatever the issue is, it is theirs to solve, not yours.

You can always write a letter to communicate your feelings (that you will never send)

Let everything out on paper. Say whatever comes to mind, no matter how furious or inappropriate it may be. This isn't a letter you'll be sending (unless you want to be fired), so let your inner beast out. By the time you sign, you'll feel a million times better.


Characteristics of a Toxic Boss

Toxic manager traits

A toxic boss is someone in a position of leadership who harms the people they are tasked to lead, develop, and care for. In other words, they take advantage of their position of authority. For example, behaving in an emotionally or physically destructive manner, leading with an extremely authoritarian leadership style, behaving in an aggressive, belittling manner, or showing no respect toward team members are all examples of this.


Characteristics of a Toxic Boss

1. Conceited

Toxic leaders are pompous. They believe they are always correct and expect others to believe what they say. They offer little assistance to others, and they despise it when someone, especially a subordinate, attempts to correct them.

2. Authoritarian

Employees are second-class citizens who exist solely to carry out the orders of their superiors. A toxic boss does not want anyone else point of view to be heard. They expect others to follow their every command without ever questioning it obediently. A toxic boss frequently sees himself as the top dog or a self-proclaimed king, and their behaviour reflects this.

3. Irritable

Toxic leaders are frequently irritable, which is somewhat unsurprising. They do not wish to be bothered in any way. They dislike being asked questions and want to avoid them as much as possible since they are close to other people's perspectives. The organization suffers under a toxic boss because of a lack of fresh and free-flowing ideas.

4. Misaligned

An ill-tempered child is terrified of change and lurks beneath the gruff and arrogant exterior of a toxic boss. They have a high level of inflexibility and are resistant to change. The toxic boss is likely to be the most vocal opponent of any organizational reforms.

5. Lack of self-assurance

The poisonous leader has no faith in themselves, despite their outward confidence. As a result, they have difficulty trusting others in their team. Challenging problems are frequently neglected or brushed under the rug due to this lack of confidence.

6. Incapable

A toxic leader may believe they are the best, yet they are incompetent and frequently fail to make the most basic judgments or complete the most basic responsibilities. Their sense of importance and utility is derived only from criticizing others and portraying them as less than they are.

7. A hierarchical structure

Toxic leadership will wither and perish if no firm hierarchy is in place. You'll often feel the pressure of the corporate power structure above you if you're working under a toxic CEO. A toxic leader is skilled at leveraging hierarchy and seniority to influence their subordinates.

8. Unrealistic expectations

Toxic leaders are known for establishing goals that are both unjust and unattainable. Demoralized team members struggle with impossible ambitions. The workload grows, and the company is doomed to fail.

9. Personal authority symbols

These indicators could include having first access to communal parking places, having complete access to everything, and possibly even decorating the entire workplace with their photographs and accomplishment stories.

  • Rude/ Discriminatory
  • Dismissive
  • Unkind and hateful
  • Condescending
  • Resentful
  • Controlling that isn't emotionally intelligent
  • Embarrassing Undermining
  • Cruel/ Violent


Toxic manage checklist

As a result, negativity in a toxic workplace can kill the company. Not only in figurative terms but also in the bottom line. If you're a leader, you'll have to pick aside. You can either resist the toxicity or opt to accept it. Whether you're a leader, manager, or supervisor, you're either part of the solution or part of the issue.

How many of the signs of poisonous workplace culture from the list below apply to your workplace or your company's leaders?

  • You're hesitant to speak up in front of higher-ups.
  • Your supervisor micromanages you or others.
  • Your supervisor keeps an eye on you as you perform job assignments or asks extensive questions about your procedure to criticize you whenever possible.
  • You don't go to HR to address problems because you're afraid of being retaliated against.
  • Information only travels one way at team meetings with your boss, from the boss to you and the rest of the team.
  • Snide remarks and sarcasm are more common than nice or supporting statements.
  • People are promoted because they are related to senior management or the C-suite.
  • Management encourages or tolerates inappropriate statements made toward employees.
  • New or unconventional ideas are frowned upon and suppressed.
  • Changes in strategy or direction are kept hidden from you and others.
  • When you ask questions, you are patronizingly advised not to worry about it because it won't affect you, even though it will.
  • Leadership accepts, excuses, or tolerates temper tantrums verbal or physical aggression.


Toxic bosses refuse to admit their errors or take responsibility for them. When managers avoid mistakes and blame others, fostering a culture of ownership and accountability is difficult. Instead, they point the finger at others to avoid taking responsibility. On the other hand, that same management wants accountability from their employees. On the other hand, their lack of accountability sends the message to employees that managers are excused from taking responsibility for their failures. Toxic leadership thrives in this environment. Employees who eventually advance to managerial positions are instilled with the "do as I say, not "do" mentality.


This article was written by Trish Makiwa a Consultant at the Industrial Psychology Consultants

Trish Makiwa
This article was written by Trish a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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