An empathetic woman business owner listens to an employee who is speaking with her in a serious manner.
Regularly conducting employee surveys provides valuable insights about your company, but it's important to get specific with surveys to uncover and root out toxic leaders. — Getty Images/SDI Productions

Employee surveys can inform you of the motivation, passion, and commitment your employees have for their jobs and your company. They’ll provide you with valuable insights into what you’re doing right and how you can improve.

According to research from Binghamton University’s School of Management, sending out questionnaires that are too standardized and simplistic may not reveal what your employees truly think of their leaders.

These types of questionnaires might disclose whether employees like their managers and supervisors. However, they’re unlikely to shed light on negative behaviors that may keep toxic leaders in their positions. This is because it can be difficult for employees to remember negative leadership behaviors, especially if they’re generally satisfied with your company.

If you find out that a manager or supervisor has been toxic, approach them in a calm, nonaggressive manner.

If you’d like to determine how your leaders are behaving so you can make improvements as necessary, ask your employees more specific questions that don’t allow for vague answers. For example, you can say something like “Was there a time when your manager belittled you and your team members? If so, please describe it.”

Since toxic leadership can hinder employee performance and increase turnover, it’s important to recognize it and take steps to remove it from your workplace. Here are some tips that can help you do so:

  • Confront toxic managers. If you find out that a manager or supervisor has been toxic, approach them in a calm, nonaggressive manner. Explain what you’ve found and how you can support them with changing.
  • Hire external coaches. Leadership doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If possible, invest in coaching services to help managers and supervisors improve their management techniques and communication skills.
  • Provide conflict training. The goal of conflict training is to show employees and leaders how to properly resolve conflict issues in the workplace. Conflict training may reduce the risk of toxic leadership practices.
  • Know when to fire a leader. Ideally, your managers and supervisors will be willing to work with you and change for the better. However, if they’re unable to or continue to infuse toxicity into your workplace, it may be time to let them go.

Excellent leaders are the key to a positive company culture and pathway to success. By taking the time to identify those who are toxic and preventing future toxicity, you can improve morale, retention, and cooperation in your workplace.

Learn more: [9 Leadership Training Programs for Managers]

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