The Toxic Personality – a definition

10-11-2009 | steve | Toxic Personalities |

Anyone who knows me well knows that I enjoy delving into personality profiles, behaviours and traits.  As a practitioner of change and workplace performance, my attention turns to the many facets of the toxic personality; how it is impacting our workplace and each other.  With a view as to what makes a healthy work environment you can expect a number of my future blogs focused on this subject.  What strategies, what tactics and what can be done to restore productivity and civility back in our jobs.

Today, I met with Larry, one of the most upbeat guys I know. Larry was so excited about his new job. He loved the company he used to work for so I was surprised by the change. When asked what prompted the decision to move, he related that he had tired of working for a tyrant of a boss. Larry’s story was riddled with examples of rudeness, bullying, sarcasm, incivility, rumour mongering, overblown ego, demeaning emails, and profane language; all the telltale signs of a toxic personality in full swing. Faced with these challenges, Larry made a valiant effort to work around them, but after being exposed to this poisonous person for a period of term, Larry decided he had had enough. He was tired, depressed and “sucked dry” of energy. More importantly, it was affecting his own behavior, and through him his family and friends as well.

Sadly, while Larry has been able to escape such a terrible working environment, Larry’s previous colleagues continue to work with a boss that makes life challenging.

The toxic personality as those who continually show a pattern of behaviour that hinders individuals and teams from achieving their potential. Not just behaviours but “BADhaviours” that breakdown relationships, minimize contributions and stunt performance.

With the economic realities facing companies today, no organization can afford to ignore a toxic workplace and the personalities that foster it. However, exposing toxic elements that exist in the workplace is not an easy process.  In my next blog, I’ll touch on what can be done to identify and help make changes to behaviours.