February 2, 2021

Episode 139: Dealing With A Toxic Workplace With Dr. Paul White

If you’re listening to this podcast, you likely are or aspire to be a great manager. But what if those around you don’t have the same appreciation for being a positive influence on the team? Sometimes, we find ourselves in the unlucky position of working with a toxic boss or employee. In these cases, it’s important to do what you can to manage the unhealthy dynamic, protect yourself, and know when it’s time to say goodbye.

Today’s guest is Dr. Paul White. Paul is a psychologist, speaker, and international leadership trainer who “makes work relationships work”. His company, Appreciation at Work, provides training resources for corporations, medical facilities, schools, non-profits, government agencies, over 700 colleges and universities, and in over 60 countries. He is the coauthor with Dr. Gary Chapman of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, which has sold over 400,000 copies. Paul was also a guest on Episode 99: Show Authentic and Meaningful Appreciation.

In this episode we talk about toxic behavior. We get into the three components of a toxic workplace, how to navigate toxic behavior from your boss or colleagues, what toxic behavior looks like in a remote work environment and more.

Members of the Modern Manager community can access The Motivating By Appreciation Inventory for FREE. This assessment helps you discover your preferred language of appreciation and provides an individualized report and list of action items you can share with your team members to help them “hit the mark” in showing YOU appreciation. Get this bonus when you join the Modern Manager community.

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Read the related blog article: The 3 Elements of A Toxic Workplace

Key Takeaways:

  • There are three major components of a toxic work environment: (1) toxic systems, (2) toxic leaders, and (3) dysfunctional colleagues.
  • Poor communication habits is a hallmark toxic work environments, especially for larger organizations. Teams avoid directly addressing issues and instead use indirect methods of communication. Additionally, there is consistent lack clarity about what decisions were made and who is responsible.
  • To reduce chances of confusion, have your team run through a list of questions after a meeting about what the decision was, who is responsible, when the next step will happen, and how you will know it’s happening.
  • Toxic leaders are often extremely competent, talented, and charming. They look good because they sell well, but their actions fail to line up with their promises.
  • To deal with a toxic leader, find a sounding board to process what’s happening at work. Don’t get side-tracked with fixing the toxic situation. Document the decisions and expectations from meetings.
  • Include measures of effective collaboration as part of performance reviews to help identify toxic colleagues and provide grounds for termination
  • If your emotional and physical health is deteriorating from work stress, this may be a sign you need to leave your job.
  • Toxic or dysfunctional employees often have chronic functioning problems in. Dysfunctional people tend to blame others and make excuses rather than accept responsibility.
  • To deal with toxic colleagues, set boundaries and document well. Let them know you can’t rescue or cover for them. Make clear what your work is and what you’ve accomplished to minimize being held accountable for their failures.
  • Have an open conversation with your boss about concerns with your dysfunctional colleague. Present the data and let your boss come to her own conclusions. Ask your boss for advice on how to handle the situation rather than casting blame on your coworker.


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Blog: www.appreciationatwork.com/blog

Website: www.appreciationatwork.com
Book: Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

Additional Resources:


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