In any business, there is likely to be a few toxic people. At first glance, these managers or employees may not appear to be obviously bad for the work environment, but their habits, behaviors and attitudes can slowly erode the morale and effectiveness of the workplace.
Toxic people avoid responsibility. The kind of person who is quick to declare "that's not my job" is very harmful to the workplace, especially in smaller companies. Every employee should be willing to step outside of their comfort zone and help out in other areas if need be, as long as they are not being asked to do anything illegal or unethical. Those who refuse to help others destroy the harmony in the workplace.
Another common behavior of a toxic person is assuming that because he's paid his dues, he can now skate through his job. While an excellent track record should be recognized, truly great employees know that their daily contributions matter even more.
Some toxic people think their many years of experience or close relationship with higher-ups is enough for them to be an asset to the company forever. While years of experience is certainly important, it's equally important to continue to grow and learn new things.
Toxic people tend to gossip. Sharing juicy rumors or complaining about co-workers and supervisors breeds a negative environment. Those who are privy to the gossip begin to respect those co-workers less, whether the complaints and rumors are true or not. Gossip also creates a toxic work environment where people are suspicious and mistrusting of others.
Toxic people are likely to dissent from group meetings by holding their own little side meetings afterwards. Meetings are a chance for everyone to discuss ideas and solutions and delegate responsibilities. Those who choose not to speak up or otherwise participate in the meeting should not encourage others to rebel or wait until another time to voice negative opinions.
When an employee does a great job and consistently gives her best, a toxic person may try to hold her back by using peer pressure. Poor employees don't want others to do too well because it makes them look bad by comparison.
Toxic people are quick to assume credit for a job well done. Whether the project in question was a team effort or not, a toxic person makes it his goal to get most of the praise. This can breed resentment in other employees who also deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments but feel they must fight to get it.
Toxic people love to throw their co-workers under the bus in negative situations. Every company experiences difficulties, such as when a client presentation fails to inspire or a customer complains. Some people step up and take responsibility, even if it isn't all their fault. Toxic people tend to point the finger at others and deflect all blame, which destroys the team atmosphere.
If you find yourself in a toxic work environment, you have two choices: find ways to deal with it, or leave the company. Toxic people exist almost everywhere, so it's a good idea to remind yourself of these common behaviors so you can recognize them and avoid engaging in toxic behavior.
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