How to Successfully Manage Toxic Bosses and Coworkers

We have all worked with toxic people. There’s the VP who provided zero guidance yet managed to find fault with your work. The terribly insecure co-worker who passed off your best ideas as their own. Your incompetent counterpart in another office who negatively affected your own team’s success.

Leaders and employees who are toxic have little – if any – emotional intelligence (EQ). They lack self-awareness and cannot understand or even notice how their behavior impacts others. Unfortunately, their behavior is extremely damaging.

A study released by the University of Manchester Business School found that employees with toxic bosses had very low job satisfaction and higher incidences of clinical depression. It is also estimated that workplace incivility costs companies $14,000 per employee due to lost productivity.

As nice as it would be to escape toxic people by changing jobs, it’s not always possible, at least in the short term. So let’s look at some ways to successfully manage toxic bosses and coworkers:

Set boundaries

Establish and consistently enforce boundaries. For example, maybe you never answer emails on weekends or kindly refuse offers to hang out after work.

Communicate often

To reduce a micromanager’s tendency to check in constantly (or try to take over), send frequent status updates and confirm you are meeting their expectations.

Give credit (even if it’s not deserved)

A power-hungry boss may OK more of your ideas if you give him partial credit. Perhaps you can refer to a comment he made and say it was the inspiration for the idea. This may be painful to do, but it could help move projects forward.

Ask specific questions

Visionary leaders love to throw out big ideas and leave you to figure out the details. Ask specific questions so she understands potential obstacles and what it will take to implement the idea.

Create a united front

Some bosses jump into discussions without having all the facts, offer unwanted advice and then disappear, leaving behind chaos. Get together with your team and have a non-confrontational conversation with this person to help them understand the impact of their behavior.

If you need additional ideas for managing a toxic boss or co-worker, please reach out. Let me know (briefly!) what is happening so I can provide strategies best suited for your particular situation.

Joan FletcherComment