Toxic Workplace!

  • by Mitchell Kusy, Elizabeth Holloway
  • Narrated by Vanessa Hart
  • 6 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"The day this person left our company is considered an annual holiday!"
This quote, taken from Kusy and Holloway's research on toxic personalities, echoes the frustration and confusion that come from working with or managing an extremely difficult person. Just one toxic person has the capacity to debilitate individuals, teams, and even organizations.
Toxic Workplace! is the first book to tackle the underlying systems issues that enable a toxic person to create a path of destruction in an organization, pervading others' thoughts and energies, even undermining their very sense of well-being. Based on all-new research with over 400 leaders, many from the Fortune 500 list, this book illustrates how to manage existing toxic behaviors, create norms that prevent the growth or regrowth of toxic environments, and ultimately design organizational communities of respectful engagement.
Kusy and Holloway's research reveals the warning signs that indicate a serious behavioral problem and identifies how this toxicity spreads in systems with long-term effects on organizational climate, even after the person has left. Their two-year, cutting-edge research study provides very specific actions that leaders need to take to reduce both the intensity and frequency of toxic personalities at work. No other book provides this menu of options from a systems perspective with practical relevance in real work situations.
You'll learn how to identify the toxic personality and describe the leader reactions and approaches that typically don't work. Toxic Workplace! provides hands-on approaches that work with research-based strategies at the individual, team, and organizational level. Toxic Workplace! will provide new insights on how leaders lead, how organizational cultures sustain themselves, and how teams deal with toxic personalities.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Targeted at those that can make changes

The narrator is the one redeeming factor for this book. She sounds like Kathleen Turner. It's strange to have this husky voice reading the book, but it makes the content more engaging. The first half of the book is more useful for general employees, but it does not offer ways for individuals to make change. It is depressing because you find yourself nodding your head at the examples and saying, "yes yes, I have worked what someone like that" or "yes yes I have done that to avoid that person" but you aren't offered a way to change.

The second half of the book is geared toward leaders and HR professionals. I am not one of those people. The discussion about creating corporate values makes me roll my eyes. It isn't as useful for existing companies...especially those that are part of a big multi-national corporation.

I found that I wished my old bosses would have read this book and taken its points to heart. I am one of the people the book talks about who leaves a job to escape toxic individuals. I am that heightened turnover. If only my bosses had read this book. And that's the problem with this book. It leaves you frustrated if you have no ability to change the work environment.

As an aside, the book acknowledges that there are psychological issues that may be driving behavior. Many of the individuals that are described could be categorized as borderline or sociopaths. The book "The Sociopath Next Door" is more useful for individuals dealing with "toxic" people in the workplace than this book. This book is for leaders that need to follow the rules. The Sociopath Next Door is for coworkers that need to learn how to deal with these chaotic individuals.
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- DL

Toxic personalities are like English Ivy

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Perhaps. a quick read / listen, straightforward presentation of the material.


Would you be willing to try another book from Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway ? Why or why not?

Maybe. Subject matter dependent.


What three words best describe Vanessa Hart’s voice?

Prefer in non-fiction


Did Toxic Workplace! inspire you to do anything?

Add "Wait it out" to the prevailing "Adapt or Get out" mindset.


Any additional comments?

I bought this book because I wanted to understand some of the soft issues behind an under-performing division. I can see that removing toxicity is nothing more than a messy chore.Leaner organizations demand less formalized management structures, leading to fewer people to manage s.o.p.s, and processes improvements. If there are fewer managers available to monitor processes, who is available to monitor the chore of turning toxicity into productivity?

The bulk of this book is devoted to understanding the toxic workplace and the toxic employee. There are blueprints for change, and information that change is neither swift nor permanent. Change is a commitment. I would have liked more strategies on managing up i.e. toxic boss. While there is information, there aren't many strategies. It all leads me to the conclusion that toxicity is simply a moving target. Find out what motivates the individual, engage that...and the individual will zig. Engage again along the new path and they will zag. The toxic individual will do anything to deflect personal responsibility onto external factors such as things, people and often subordinates while crediting themselves with superior performance numbers, plans and foresight in the boardroom. Call it herding cats, nailing jello to a tree, call it dealing with a toxic person / environment...it's all pretty much the same.

I'm not sure why these people are the way they are. Do they fear change? Are they afraid that they will be exposed as poor employees? Do they believe everything they do is correct? Unless you're a psychologist, do any of the reasons for their behavior matter? Not really. Even within occasional moments of clarity and reason with toxic individuals, expect to meet oppositional behavior throughout your relationship with the person / people / organization.In my experience, and confirmed to an extent in the book, these toxic people and things know how to do one thing exceptionally well - get what they want. They will exploit, alter, pervert, deflect, and manipulate in order to achieve their goal. This is expert level petulance.

If you read the book, and most other sources, what you see time and time again is something like "the toxic employees were there for XX years, reducing productivity, stunting growth and causing an unusually high percentage employee turnover." Meaning - they are in it for the long haul. If you think you are going to "expose" their toxic behahior, think again.

Whether a superior or a subordinate, toxic people are usually professional at being toxic. They have been toxic, been rewarded for their toxicity and like chameleons have learned how to adapt their toxic behaviors to many situations. This may be your first go at them, but they have seen tens, maybe hundreds of people like you come and go before ever had your first interaction with them. Unless cultural change within the organization is underway, be prepared for very little to happen for a very long time.

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- PJ3

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-08-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios