Toxic Manager

What is a toxic manager, and how to never become one?

As a manager, it’s essential to be aware of the signs if you’re becoming toxic. Suppose you can identify the signs early on and take the necessary steps to stop your toxic behavior before it continues. In that case, you’ll be in a much better position to lead a healthy, productive team. In this post, we’ll understand who is called a Toxic Manager and what impact their toxicity has on their team. We’ll be further adding ten valuable tips on how managers can protect themselves from becoming toxic in their roles. So, let’s start!

How will you define a Toxic Manager?

Until now, the definition of a toxic manager has been left up to individual interpretation. But now, there’s a definition that’s been made based on the research conducted. A toxic manager drives talented people away, ruins the workplace culture, and has no respect for the team. This type of manager is toxic not only to the individual employee but also to the whole team. As a result, the workplace becomes a toxic environment. Such managers are often intolerant of others, and their actions negatively impact productivity. Toxic managers can quickly turn a team into an atmosphere of intimidation and fear. They can be both verbally and emotionally abusive and often resort to spiteful and underhanded tactics to get their way. A Toxic Manager is often untrustworthy and unreliable, putting the entire team at risk.

This toxicity is not specific to any specific type of management. It can flow or foster in any department, from HR, sales, IT, or even project management. Each department of any business is at the risk of having a bad boss or a bad manager whose toxic leadership and toxic behavior create a toxic workplace and may even severely affect the company culture. They lack empathy, compassion, emotional intelligence, or even the basic sanity necessary for managing a team effectively.

They can have a significantly -lousy impact on their team; we will discuss this impact in detail in our next section.

A Toxic Manager’s impact on the team

As mentioned earlier, a toxic manager’s impact on the team can be devastating.

  • Their actions can cause individuals to feel disrespected, unappreciated and paranoid.
  • They can also lead to a loss of trust and morale, which will impact productivity.
  • In addition, teams under the direction of a toxic boss or manager often experience conflict and disharmony.
  • The Toxic Manager is usually very quick to take offense even when there is no real offense being committed, which can lead to Drama Triangle situations.
  • Teams under the control of a toxic manager are also highly likely to experience burnout.
In short, a toxic manager can take in a good team and destroy it. Their toxicity ends up causing the best employees to leave and the reaming to lose all motivation.

How To Protect Yourself From Becoming A Toxic Manager

1. Keep a constant check on your behavior

Sadly, toxic behavior is becoming an increasingly common problem in the workplace. It manifests in various ways, from oral toxicity to emotional toxicity. Toxic behavior is never acceptable, and it needs to be stopped at all costs! If you want to protect yourself from becoming a toxic manager yourself, keep checking your behavior. Be aware of your words and actions, and be mindful of how they impact the people around you. If you see any signs of causing harm or distress, take steps to address them immediately. If physical meetings bring out your toxic behavior, try keeping most of the conversations through email.

2. Don’t micromanage

Micromanagement is extreme and often counterproductive management that involves doing everything possible to control every aspect of employees’ work. Micromanaging employees can be a recipe for disaster, leading to stress, unhappiness, and even burnout. Therefore, the first step to avoid becoming toxic is to keep micromanagement entirely out of your leadership style. Try to become a good coach and provide clear and straightforward instructions, and give your team the freedom to discover and innovate on their own. It will help them achieve their goals more effectively while also reducing the need for you to be involved in every aspect of their work.

3. Do not bully or backbite your employees

Toxic managers are not only unprofessional but also bully and backbite their employees. These behaviors destroy morale and lead to resentment, which can ultimately lead to a termination or make retention too hard. If you want to avoid becoming a toxic manager, be careful not to bully or backbite your employees. Instead, focus on building a positive rapport with them and encourage them to voice their concerns and problems. Keep your interactions with your team constructive, professional, and positive. If you need to criticize someone, make sure that it is constructive and comes out positively.

4. Avoid putting down or demeaning others

The toxic manager often takes pleasure in criticizing and putting people down. It doesn’t make them look good; it makes them look like jerks. Toxic behavior can quickly spread like wildfire in a work environment and have serious consequences. If you’re trying to stay safe and manage your career growth, it’s essential to avoid putting down or demeaning others. Doing so will only cause resentment, anger, and frustration, which will only lead to problems. Instead, try to take the high road in any situation and remain objective. It will help you build trust and respect with your team and ultimately help you achieve your goals.

5. Don’t misuse someone’s weaknesses

As a manager, it is your responsibility to protect your team members or co-workers from being exploited. We often see managers misuse others’ weaknesses to achieve their own goals. For example: If an employee has the weakness of not being able to say no to things, a toxic manager will keep on giving them extra work or responsibilities, knowing that they’ll accept it. If you want to avoid becoming a toxic manager, do not ever misuse someone’s weaknesses to take advantage of them or make them feel powerless. Instead, use your knowledge and skills to help them achieve their goals. It will make them feel appreciated and motivated and help you build a strong team for the long term.

6. Avoid getting caught up in the drama

One of the best ways to protect yourself from becoming a toxic manager is to avoid getting caught up in the drama. It can be easy to get wrapped up in office politics, but it’s important to stay above the fray. Try to focus on your work and your goals, and don’t get drawn into arguments or backstabbing. If you see that someone is getting caught up in the drama, try to help them out. Offer them advice, or recommend that they talk to a therapist or counselor. Drama can be addictive, but it’s important to remember that it’s time-wasting and above all “Toxic”.

7. Avoid getting personal with someone

Toxic managers are often characterized by their need for control and tendency to be overbearing. They also tend to be personal, nit-picking, and reactionary. Ultimately, these behaviors lead to a tense and dysfunctional work environment, which can eventually impact the private lives of their subordinates. If you want to avoid becoming a toxic manager, staying away from getting personal with your team members is essential. Instead, focus on building relationships based on trust and mutual respect.

8. Avoid biases and favoritism

When it comes to managing people, the danger isn’t just in making wrong decisions – it’s in adopting a bias or favoring one person over another. It can have serious consequences, leading to resentment, infighting, and ultimately, staff turnover. To avoid becoming a toxic manager, be vigilant about preventing bias or favoritism in your interactions with your team. It will help ensure that everyone feels appreciated and respected and that all voices are heard.

9. Avoid creating unnecessary issues or mentally harassing someone

As a manager, it is your responsibility to create an environment where your team can thrive and be productive. However, if you are not careful, you can easily create needless issues or mentally harass your team members. You may do it by setting too tight or almost unachievable deadlines, assigning work to your team members out of their roles, or putting too much undue pressure.

To avoid becoming toxic, you should first avoid creating unnecessary problems by setting clear and concise expectations, enforcing them fairly and consistently, and being available to answer any questions your team members may have. Additionally, be mindful of the words you use and refrain from speaking to your team in a derogatory or insulting manner as it may negatively affect their mental health. Finally, always remember that working under pressure can be beneficial but only to a certain extent. It would help if you never went beyond this extent to put pressure on your teammates.

10. Don’t pit team members against each other

If you want to keep your team healthy and productive while keeping yourself away from becoming a toxic manager, it’s essential to avoid pitting team members against each other. Pitting team members against each other creates resentment and disharmony and can lead to miscommunication, ineffective decision-making, and even sabotage. Instead of making this toxic environment, aim to build a supportive team environment. Each team member should agree with and back each other’s decisions, bring their unique skills to the team, and enjoy their company. Reward team members for their hard work and make sure that everyone feels like they have a voice and an impact on the overall direction of the company.


To conclude, toxic managers can ruin any workplace, especially those where personal interactions are essential for productivity. They can be very destructive and demoralizing, where employees feel like they can’t do anything right. The worst thing is that they often seem to thrive on conflict and dish it out as if it’s their favorite food. Therefore, you as a manager should protect yourself from becoming a toxic manager at all costs. The tips outlined above will keep you from maintaining the necessary distance from toxicity and move you towards becoming great managers.

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