When it comes to toxic teams or people that just bring a group down, I’m pretty sure that most if not everyone has been through this experience in their lives, or if not, they will eventually. Having toxicity in a group of people, that need to get a job especially, is never a good situation to have on your hands when you are the team leader. When you cannot get things done in your group because you have people that cannot work well with others, or you have more sticky situations happening between the people in your team, or even you get stuck with that one person in the group that doesn’t want to contribute to the effort and thinks that they can just get piggy back ride from other team members, you, the manager, must take charge and figure out why there is so much of this toxic behavior in your team.
The book The Geek Leader’s Handbook gives a great way of kicking toxicity in the butt and out of the team/group that you are in charge of. It lists four steps that I found to be pretty outstanding ways to go about destroying the negativity, such as figuring out where all of the hate is coming from, that is always a good start in any situation. Then, you must claim and assign responsibility. Even though it may be a hard pill to swallow, it is partially your fault for said negativity in the group, because you kind of helped to create the problem in one way or another. Next, you should choose your interventions. Basically, figure out what way you are going to approach this situation to your team. How are you going to bring peace and tranquility to the people that you have to work with? Finally implement and monitor. Tell your people that this is how we are going to get to the bottom of this mess and this is what we are going to do to try and keep the peace. you must also make sure that you are watching if your team gets to the point of a wrestling match again.
Have I ever been in toxic teams? I wouldn’t really go that far as to say that they were toxic, but I have been in teams where I was one of the two people that were doing the work and no one else was. Those kinds of things get annoying really quick, especially when you are just trying to get the work done so that you can get the grade that you want and then move on with life. Now, in the work area, I have never really come across this problem, and I hope that it stays that way, but sadly, I know that it won’t.
On the bright side, I do know that on top of The Geek Leader’s Handbook, there are many other places that offer great advice on how to handle this negative situation that you may be in as a manager. Sam Campbell wrote in her blog a bunch of great information on improving toxicity in the workplace. She mentioned things such as focusing on solutions and not complaints, encouraging, and in my opinion, enforcing responsibility, coaching problem employees, and creating as much positivity as you can. As a manager, you must be willing to get to the nitty gritty of what is going on with your team members and try to resolve it as best as you can, without a fist fight as the result of trying to create peace. A good amount of what Sam had to say can help you in this situation as the manager. Just to know that there are several resources out there to help those in need of trying to create a peaceful work environment that your employees can work in and be successful is outstanding. Therefore, I think that employees can wave their white flag, put away the negativity, and do what they all came to love and get paid for in a more healthy environment!