Avoiding Managerial Dysfunction in your Workplace


“The workplace, like the home, can become psychologically toxic if dysfunctional people are in charge.” – Adrian Furnham, Financial Times, November 29, 2000

What supervisory behavior impacts voluntary turnover?

Yes, your company’s organizational climate and productivity are significantly impacted by supervisory behaviors. Seasoned managers are assumed to be skilled, reliable, and knowledgeable. However, many are not able to translate those valuable assets into managerial communication or employee motivation.

Often overlooked, managers may not exhibit counter-productive behaviors until they are settled into the organization or promoted into higher positions. Managers employing an autocratic leadership style are unsuccessful at building long-term commitment with their subordinates, and the organizational climate can become toxic and unproductive if they advocate an environment built on fear. However, it may not always be their fault. Some managers are never taught to address the needs of their people and cannot handle the stressors of the new position. These are the hallmarks of this management style that you can recognize:

  1. Inconsistent, unpredictable messages that lack clarity (which creates insecurity among direct reports);
  2. Lack of emotional control when encountering a stressful situation;
  3. Inflexibility when managers repeat mistakes and do not take steps to improve or learn new skills. To often, these characteristics are compounded with
  4. A lack of mentoring knowledge; or
  5. Disinterest in guiding their direct reports’ long-term career goals.

Solutions for leadership development.

Essentially, the above-described managers focus on how team performance reflects on them rather than acknowledging the effort and quality that went into the finished product. Managers who fail to see (or recognize) individual contribution will stifle productivity and creativity amongst their team. They also cost the firm talented employees. If left unaddressed, it can lead to mass exodus or anti-leaders in the ranks.

New hires (especially Gen X/Y) take cues from their direct supervisors. Management must be aware of the influence that it has over employees’ burgeoning leadership potential. Learning how to master interpersonal skills gives managers the ability to control their influence as well as motivate talented employees. Setting clear, specific, and realistic goals and rewarding open communication creates a supportive environment that produces high quality work from a loyal employee base.


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