Skip links

How to Identify Toxic Behaviour and Course Correct to Ensure Your Team’s Success

How to Identify Toxic Behaviour and Course Correct to Ensure Your Team’s Success


Is toxic behavior affecting your team’s success? Learn how to identify and course correct with these tips from Dr. Tracy Cocivera and Eric Beaudan, partners at the Leadership Advisory Practice at Odgers Berndtson. Mediation can resolve workplace conflict and improve employee engagment and collaboration.

Toxic behaviors pose an enormous threat to organizational effectiveness, in part because they can exist at all levels of an organization. The other complicating factor is that even some of the most competent, productive people can exhibit negative, distracting behaviors. No matter where it’s coming from, it’s leadership’s responsibility to pinpoint and correct toxicity before it spreads throughout the workforce.

How Toxic Behaviors Can Degrade Teams

Within the workplace, toxic conflicts can escalate to create a negative environment that affects all employees. Take this example.

One of an organization’s top-producing teams, which had been in place for more than a decade, was suddenly struggling. As the CEO and CHRO dug deeper, they discovered there was a conflict between members—two in particular. It wasn’t unusual for these individuals to make passive-aggressive comments at team meetings, tell their direct reports to ignore the other’s requests or even try to sabotage each other’s work. The executives knew ignoring the problem wasn’t an option. The other team members, as well as colleagues who were aware of the toxic conflict, were deeply affected by what was going on. A failure to act would undermine faith in the CEO and senior leadership.

The CEO contemplated whether she could move one or both of the toxic team members. However, the organization was highly dependent on this top-producing team, and both leaders involved were seen as industry experts. So the CEO had deep concerns that this change would destabilize the team. She also knew that removing but not addressing the problem directly had the potential to spread the toxicity to other parts of the company.

Leave a comment