This might blow your mind.
According to a Harvard study, a toxic employee can have a net negative impact on a business that’s far greater than a rockstar salesperson’s net positive impact. Let me say that another way. You’d need two sales rockstars to make up for one toxic salesperson in terms of lost productivity, sales numbers, and revenue! If that’s not sobering, nothing is.
So what do you do? Well, that’s an easy one if you’re a sales leader — you just let that person go. I’m a huge proponent of firing fast… especially in cases like these.
But what if you’re a salesperson who’s working under a toxic manager? Now this gets a whole lot trickier. You could leave for another job, but chances are, you have a lot riding on this position at your company. So let’s assume you want to make it work.
Today we’re going to discuss the red flags of a toxic workplace and what to do if you’re stuck in one. What comes next might shock you, though.
First, what is a toxic sales culture?
A toxic workplace may not be what you think it is. First, we have to acknowledge that some leadership styles are direct and vocal. You won’t always get a “please” and “thank you” from your manager. And some leaders speak with conviction and authority. Your manager may not even be very encouraging. In fact, some leaders don’t sugarcoat their communications at all. Does this mean it’s a toxic workplace?
No. Not necessarily.
You have to look past differences in communication styles and look for patterns and trends to know if your company culture or manager is truly toxic. A toxic environment is one where you’re tip-toeing around in fear, always feeling like you’re walking on eggshells.
Here are some surefire ways to know if you’re waist-deep in an unhealthy sales environment.
8 Questions To Ask to Know if You’re in a Toxic Workplace
Is there outright disrespect and/or abuse?
You know it when you see it. If you’re constantly (or even just frequently) being disrespected by your manager or anyone else, and/or feel that you’re being abused (verbally, physically, etc.), then you are absolutely in a toxic sales environment, and it’s time to get out.
Do your colleagues talk behind the manager’s back?
If you and your colleagues are always talking about how much of a “jerk” he is behind his back, then the writing is on the wall — you probably have a toxic manager. Consensus is key, but not necessary. But I’ve just found that when multiple people cry wolf, the wolf is likely real and has teeth.
Does your manager lead with fear?
Are you constantly being threatened with your job or with some other form of retribution? These types of threats are usually based on performance, but they can stem from just about anything, really. If your manager leads with fear, it’s out of their own insecurity, and it may be time for you to leave.
Does your manager take credit for wins and/or point fingers when things go wrong?
A true leader gives credit where credit is due. And when things go wrong, they take the blame rather than pin it on someone else. So if you have a manager who’s constantly seeking the limelight and plays the blame-game, you are likely in a toxic workplace.
Is employee development and motivation a priority?
Bad managers don’t typically care to build and develop their talent. Rather, they let their salesforce stagnate. Or worse, they do attempt to improve skills across the team, but they do it in a cutthroat way that pits a salesperson against his peers. A strong leader leads from the bottom-up and finds ways to motivate and lift up the whole team at once.
Are you constantly being micromanaged?
A toxic manager is one who is always breathing down your neck, constantly demanding more out of you — whether it’s your time, energy, mental bandwidth, etc. 100 sales activities in a day isn’t enough, and soon it’s 200, then 500, and the goal post keeps moving. While it’s important that your manager expects much of you, their expectations must be realistic. There should also be mutual trust, where your manager doesn’t need to watch your every move.
Is your sales team a revolving door?
Does it seem like every month — or even every week — a fresh-faced salesperson enters the organization, only to be driven out within days or weeks? If so, this is telling of the leadership at your company. A strong leader will retain talent for years (or at least months).
Bottom line: Does your manager focus on profits over people?
Don’t get me wrong, hitting and exceeding quota is a desirable thing, and managers should strive for it. But in the process they should never pull down their salespeople like crabs in a bucket. If you feel like your needs and mental health are suffering due to a money-hungry manager, it’s time to reconsider if you’re in the right place.
While the above questions are all worth asking, also keep in mind the simple things. Are extra-long work days required? Do you have an usually heavy workload? Is your boss often angy? Are the deadlines ultra-strict? Do you feel harassed? And do you live in a constant state of job insecurity? If so, be encouraged that there are plenty of healthy sales cultures out there, and you deserve better.
After all, the resulting damage that a toxic workplace incurs is a thinned-out sales team, a bad reputation in the industry, and oftentimes lost revenue. It’s a lose-lose proposition for bad managers. Managers who want to keep their best salespeople must lead by example. They should institute an open-door policy and hold regular pulse-check meetings. And they have to believe the best of their people.
Finally, it’s important to get to the source of the matter — which is often stress-related anxiety and insecurities on behalf of the toxic manager. When stress is managed in a healthy way, people are treated better. And when people are treated better, actual revenue-driving results are almost guaranteed to follow.
Until next time…