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There are various definitions of toxic workplaces that can be found. Here's my take on what makes a toxic workplace:
- Zero trust or worse, active distrust. When a manager/leader believes that people are basically bad and they need to be "controlled" we have the most critical pointers to a toxic workplace. This gives rise to a plethora of policies that puts the onus on the employee to prove everything - and gives rise to behaviour by them that is shirking and slacking.
- Big brother syndrome. Arising out of the first point every body is expected to seek permission before every small activity. And decision about that is centralised and lower managers are not empowered to take those decisions.
- Ethically challenged. In the rush to control the bottom line the focus on doing the right thing is lost and employees bear the brunt of it.
- Negative behaviour is rewarded. When the leader comes from a domineering and bullying workstyle - the tolerance for other behavior is low. It is assumed that a collaborative leadership style is ineffective. This leads to every manager role modelling the bullying behavior to conform to the leader's style and a cascading nastiness in the workplace.
- No distinction is made between behavior and people. Mistakes are pointed out publicly in front of peers and people are humiliated with their dignity stripped away.
See some of the articles linked below: