How Toxic Boss Behaviours Can Have A Ripple Effect On The Team

Komal Sharma

Last Updated: February 6, 2024
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“My job is quite casual, but my boss is obnoxious. Have you heard statements like this from your work colleagues or friends? Or even from yourself? Sadly, this isn’t uncommon.  We spend a large part of our lives at work. When the atmosphere is good and our job contributes to our professional development On the other hand, if we find ourselves around a toxic boss, our work days can quickly turn into nightmares!

A man and woman concentrating on their computer tasks in a office

Perhaps you are in daily contact with this manager who makes inappropriate comments about your work or this boss who is never satisfied with your work and belittles you in front of your entire team. This can be enough to make your daily life hell: digestive problems, Sunday evening blues, a lump in your throat when you arrive at work in the morning.

It’s no secret that the behaviour of our bosses can have a big effect on how both motivated and unmotivated we feel when it comes to work. This isn’t just true for us but also for those around us – our teams, colleagues, and even clients. Toxic boss behaviours can have a ripple effect on the entire team, leading to negative attitudes that affect everyone in the workplace.

If you are here reading this article, it is most likely because you are concerned about the subject, right? On that note, let’s address the essence of workplace ethics and the significance of maintaining a positive culture within an organisation.

Happy Team, Happy Workspace: Turning Bad Vibes Into Good Times

The Dark Cloud Of Negativity

You’ve been doing your job day in and day out for ages. And you do it well. You have a detailed knowledge of this subject like no one else. Then you suddenly realise, If you changed a small thing about the process, the result would be even better. In the next meeting, you present your idea proudly and with a lot of commitment. Your boss’s reaction? “We have always done it that way. The previous approach has proven successful. We’re sticking with it.” Motivation is zero.

Drowning In Micromanagement

The idea of toxic bosses or managers is particularly characterised by the fact that they are true control freaks. By constantly walking up and down the departments, you try to see what is happening on the employees’ monitors.

Enthusiasm Wanes, Motivation Withers

Did I do everything correctly in the project? Has my work made a difference? Or did my implementation of the project even trigger something negative? Employees who don’t know whether they’re doing their job right or wrong can’t do anything other than do the job by the book. What follows is a standstill, no new ideas or motivated approaches, nothing at all. And that is more damaging than not receiving feedback. No feedback equates to a personal standstill. Even negative feedback can be taken positively. After all, you get the chance to learn from your mistakes.

Power Of Good Collaboration

Good collaboration is just like a dance, with everybody doing his or her part to make a masterpiece. Then again, in the case of a toxic workplace, collaboration turns out to be an exception. The beautiful dance of cooperation is lost in team members’ attempts to navigate the tempest created by the boss. There is a breakdown of communication, and everybody has to fend for themselves.

A diverse group of individuals standing in a grassy area, holding hands in unity and forming a circle.

The Domino Effect On Mental Well-Being

Toxic boss behaviours don’t just stay within the office walls; they seep into individuals’ mental well-being. Constant criticism and a hostile work environment can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout. It’s like a storm that not only damages the external landscape but leaves a lasting impact on the internal emotional terrain of each team member.

Erosion Of Team Morale

A Department is dissolved and many employees have to leave. The project that you worked on with motivation and time-consuming work is abandoned. And why? Only God knows that, oh sorry, the boss.

Difficult decisions often have to be made in companies. These usually also affect employees. A bad boss is the one who announces such decisions, nothing more, nothing less. What happens then? The rumour mill will flare up and one or two people will be worried about their jobs. Instead of explaining decisions plausibly and with background, not talking reduces employee motivation and increases fear of change and possible job losses.

Solving The Problem Of Toxic Boss Behaviours

Dealing with a toxic boss in a small team can be challenging, but it is crucial to address the issue to maintain a healthy workplace culture. The responsibility lies with the leader of the small business to take ownership and initiate a critical conversation with the toxic employee. This conversation should focus on well-being, concern, and inquiry. By understanding the underlying reasons for the toxic behaviour, the leader can guide the employee toward positive change.

If the initial conversation does not bring about the desired change, further discussions are necessary. The leader must clearly define the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, outline the gap that needs to be closed, and explain the consequences if the gap is not addressed. Open and honest communication is key to resolving toxic boss behaviours.

Planning For Effective Conversations

Before initiating any conversation, it is essential to plan meticulously. A well-planned conversation with a clear purpose and desired outcome is more likely to yield positive results. During these discussions, it is crucial to describe to the employee what the required change looks like and sounds like. They need to understand the expectations set by the leader.

Additionally, regular team toolbox meetings should be conducted to engage the collective in discussions about workplace values. Core values such as respect, integrity, appreciation, empathy, trust, and accountability should be workshopped and clearly defined.

Team members should feel empowered to hold each other accountable if behaviour deviates from these agreed values. Observing and addressing incongruences becomes vital in maintaining a positive culture.

Reinforcing A Positive Workplace Culture

A wooden sign with the word "team" spelled out using wooden figures.

The right processes should be put in place to cultivate a good corporate culture and prevent negative practices such as bullying and harassment. This also involves the creation of explicit organic organisational values. It is essential to build accountability and choice, making it clear that national policies and practices promote conducive and productive workplace environments.

Stay interviews and onboarding can assist in identifying such problems early in the game. Performance evaluations must include both KPIs and behaviours consistent with people who will answer for their actions, body language, and facial expressions. Also, offering relevant professional development opportunities on workplace behaviours every two years can positively influence company culture.

Tackling The Toxic Boss Blues

Toxic bosses can make the work environment stressful, difficult, and unhealthy for employees. However, there are strategies you can implement to deal with a toxic boss and minimise their impact on your work life:

Don’t Let Your Emotions Control You

Dealing with toxic bosses at work is not easy. A very common mistake that people often make is letting their emotions determine their actions. The result is an even more uncomfortable situation than the previous one. That’s one of the worst mistakes you can make! Reacting angrily will only bring you more problems. For starters, that reaction could cause your boss or supervisor to make you the focus of their negative comments or increase your workload, which would further complicate your situation.

Worse yet, if you don’t control your emotions you could end up losing your job. In the worst-case scenario, you run the risk of your boss marking you as a bad worker within the company and among his contacts, which would be harmful to your career.

Therefore, try to adopt a colder and more relaxed attitude before leaving the house or turning on the computer if you work remotely and have a toxic boss. Always keep in mind that, above all, you are a professional, and that your conduct at work will reflect on you. Always act with courtesy and dignity.

For Example– You’re working on a tight deadline for a project, and your boss constantly undermines your efforts, making demeaning comments about your work. Frustration builds up, and you find yourself on the verge of a heated confrontation with your boss.

Possible Action

Instead of letting emotions take over, pause and consider the potential consequences. Reacting angrily could worsen the situation, leading to more criticism or an increased workload. To maintain professionalism, take a moment to adopt a calmer attitude. Perhaps, before responding, step away to collect your thoughts. Later, address the issues calmly, seeking solutions rather than fueling conflict. This approach helps protect your job, preserves your reputation within the company, and ensures your conduct reflects positively on your career.

Don’t Let Work Absorb You

Another common mistake that you should not make when having a bad boss is to take their comments or criticism home and let them consume you. Having those words in your mind for the rest of the day will not be good for your mental health. Now, how can you avoid receiving such criticism?

Well, for that you need a healthy balance between your work life and your personal life. Here it is necessary to change habits. Work should only take up part of your day. Once your work hours come to an end, let go of all work tasks and worries, which include those comments.

On the other hand, if your situation at work is not pleasant, the last thing you want is to be left alone at home thinking about what happened. On the contrary, you must have a very rich personal life. Get together with friends or family, have plans for after work, go out, and relax.

For Example– Your boss criticises a project you worked hard on during a team meeting, leaving you feeling disheartened. As you head home, you find it challenging to shake off the negative comments, impacting your mood and mental well-being.

Possible Action

To avoid letting work consume your personal life, consciously establish a healthy balance. Once you leave the office, shift your focus away from work tasks and concerns. For example, plan to meet a friend for dinner, engage in a hobby, or attend a social event. 

Try To Learn From The Situation

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Now is the time to be self-critical. Maybe your boss’s comments about your work aren’t negative just for the sake of it but rather have some basis. Have you considered that criticism may be due to errors or shortcomings in your work? Here you will have two options, get angry and pout or take advantage of the comment as a great opportunity in disguise.

On some occasions, we do not notice that there are aspects of our work that could be improved and that it is possible to learn and grow professionally from those criticisms. This is especially common when we have always been good at our jobs. The negative way in which criticism is presented can make us forget that we can always continue learning.

Therefore, the first thing you should do when receiving those comments is to analyse if there is something you can learn from those comments. If it is possible to learn from these, put aside your emotions as we advised in the first point and do a better job next time.

For Example– Your boss points out flaws in a recent project, highlighting areas for improvement. Initially, you feel a bit upset and defensive.

Possible Action

Instead of getting upset, take a moment to think. Ask yourself if there’s anything valuable in the criticism. See it as a chance to learn and get better at your job. Don’t let emotions take over; instead, focus on improving and doing a better job next time. This way, you turn criticism into an opportunity for growth.

Know The Limit For Criticism

Until now we have offered you tips for dealing with a toxic boss, since trying to handle that situation is the most advisable thing to do. However, there is a line that critics cannot cross. What is that limit? You can tell when negative comments leave the professional framework and begin to take on a personal tone. personal offences and adjectives are something you should not tolerate. If your boss’s comments toward you become severely toxic, then it’s time to look for a new job. Absolutely nothing is as important as your peace of mind and you will undoubtedly find another job.

Nevertheless, it’s best to set sentiments aside even in this circumstance. At all times, keep your behaviour serious and professional. While interacting with an unsatisfactory supervisor, bear the following in mind. Remember that even though this experience seems complex and uncomfortable, it is merely a small portion of your professional career.

For Example– Your boss not only criticises your work but goes further by making personal comments about your family, using hurtful language, and questioning your competence in front of colleagues.

Possible Action

When comments become personal attacks, crossing the line with mentions of your family, offensive language, or questioning your abilities publicly, it’s time to prioritise your well-being. Consider finding a new job where you can work in a more respectful environment.

Navigate Toxic Work Environment With Mentoria

Toxic boss behaviour has an extended consequence much further than the impact on the people directly involved. The mirror effect can only continue toxic behaviour from one person leading to lower morale of the team. Moreover, it will lead to decreased productivity and high personnel turnover. Nonetheless, by confrontation, prepared interactions, support of the good worth, and consulting at Mentoria, you may overcome toxic boss behaviours and develop positive and amiable conditions in the workplace.

Mentoria can serve as a crucial support system in addressing and mitigating toxic boss behaviours in the workplace. Through mentoria individuals gain insights, strategies, and emotional support to navigate challenging situations, fostering personal growth and resilience in the face of adversity.