6 Ways Leaders Create A Toxic Workplace

A woman holding a forehead and a man passing by with a coffee

In any given field or industry, some degree of stress is inevitable. However, leaders can make a tense situation much worse for their employees — and they may not even know they are doing it. In my experience, it is these leaders who find themselves at odds with their team without a clue as to why.

Leaders have the daunting responsibility of guiding their team, and the company as a whole, to success. As those who are in a leadership or management position can attest, guiding a group of people can be challenging — particularly when things are not going as originally intended. Because of this enormous pressure to lead everyone to victory, some leaders unknowingly turn the office into a tense and often toxic environment due to their actions, or lack thereof.

Stress has the potential to quickly dismantle a workforce if those that are causing the negativity do not control it. It causes irritability, hasty decision making, and according to the American Migraine Foundation, even physical pain such as debilitating headaches.

Leaders must be able to stop themselves from being the source of stress in the office. Through out my years of experience, I have seen several stress-inducing scenarios cause havoc amongst teams. As a leader, make sure you make a conscious effort never to let the following happen.

1. Closed communication and being unapproachable

It can never be emphasized enough — communication is key to leadership success. In the same respect, miscommunication will lead to error and mistakes which, whether it’s the leader’s fault or not, can cost a company dearly. It’s amazing to see how just a bit of confusion can create a whole lot of problems in the world of business. This is why I always stress that team communications should be streamlined and well documented. Whether you have to break down departmental silos or implement innovative communication tools such as Slack or Basecamp, it’s up to you to ensure your employees have every opportunity to communicate with one another.

Likewise, you must be open to communication yourself. Being unapproachable, no matter how stressed you are, will only cause your employees to feel like they have to hide less-than-perfect news from you. If you want to stay informed of both the good and bad happenings in your company, do you best to stay approachable and stay calm in front of those you lead.

2. Failing to provide appropriate resources

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes for a moment and ask yourself “Do I have everything I need to get the job done?” If there is any hesitation in your answer, you need to find a way to ensure everyone has the resources, tools, and time they need to deliver a stellar performance.

3. “Living” in your office

I always tell my clients nothing good happens when you spend the entire workday behind your desk. Cutting yourself off from your team on a regular basis will alienate your employees and further create a communication rifts. Step out of your office and have real human conversations with not only those you interact with directly but all members of your business.

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