They push their agenda, do not stick to their own ideas, and refuse to listen to their teams’ feedback. Who am I talking about? Toxic managers and leaders. No doubt you have met at least one in your life.
A few obvious signs of a toxic manager include nepotism, micromanagement, or disrespect of other people’s boundaries. There are also more obscure ones that may creep up on any team. What do professionals need to look out for?
Toxic managers do not communicate with their teams directly
I often talk about the importance of delegating. This is the form of business art that took me years to master, but when I did, it changed the name of the game. I was able to focus on strategically essential tasks and grow my business into the international group of companies it is today.
But some managers take this to the next level. They delegate tasks to their successor, who then communicates with the rest of the team. This way, a manager becomes a mythical creature that may or may not exist.
This creates a huge barrier between a leader and their team. Team members do not get an opportunity to ask questions about their career advancement, everyday processes, or relationships with their teammates. Getting through to a manager who chose this approach to communication is extremely difficult and can create many roadblocks, especially for new team members.
Toxic managers lack confidence in their decisions
While there is nothing inherently wrong with a person not being confident in themselves, leaders can’t afford it. They need to be sure about their decisions because people depend on them.
Managers who lack confidence often change their decisions on the go and fail to stick to one idea at a time. They doubt themselves and others. As a result, almost nothing around them gets done.
Even worse, managers who are not confident in themselves are almost sure not to be confident in their team members. This can result in constant micromanagement and lack of trust, which can lead to high team churn and low morale.
Toxic managers promote hierarchy
In the modern business world, relationships between teammates and managers are built on mutual respect and trust. Titles are often set aside, which makes communication more effective and pleasurable for both sides.
A manager who frequently pulls rank and promotes strict hierarchy within their team is not doing anyone favors. Whatever conflicts there might be between them and their team, they only deepen it, making the situation worse. Constantly reminding team members who a manager is can also harm their creative and problem-solving processes.
In short, such a team runs out of steam and stops working properly.
Toxic managers refuse to connect with their teams on a personal level
Today is all about personal connections. Regular syncs, out-of-office team building gatherings, book and movie clubs — this is how we at SupportYourApp promote personal communication and connection. As a result, team members know each other on a personal level, which ultimately adds up to more efficient teamwork.
Some managers refuse to connect with their team. They are all about business and work-related agendas. They can go as far as to skip the small talk and always go straight to work. Not even a ‘How are you doing?’ at the beginning of a meeting. That can be perceived as simply rude.
When a leader refuses to connect with their team, it also sets a bad precedent. Team members start doing the same. As a result, they fail to form a connection vital for effective teamwork. In the long run, this hardly results in lasting team relationships.
Can something be done?
One of the most widespread thoughts is that a team cannot do anything if its leader turns toxic. Most think they need to go to their manager’s manager to resolve the situation. In reality, there are a few steps a team can take to get through to their manager.
- Provide feedback whenever possible. At SupportYourApp, feedback is an integral part of our communication. I give it to the members of my team, and they give theirs to their teams. Our support consultants can also review their Team Leads' actions and work, which ensures we eliminate all behavioral bottlenecks as soon as they arise.
- Take care of themselves. Professionals need to watch out for their mental state and make sure they do not burn out because of inefficient management.
- Talk-talk-talk. As tough as it may be, talking and communicating is the key to everything. Talking and making a difference is worth trying. If that doesn’t work, turning to some external help might be the best option for dealing with a toxic leader.