How to stop employing toxic managers

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LinkedIn is full of articles providing advice on what good management looks like and how a bad manager can turn a workplace toxic.

We have all experienced poor management and as employees we generally moan and when it gets too bad, we leave. What can we do to prevent the wrong manager being engaged?

Current prevention methods

There is lots of things companies already do to prevent the wrong person getting the job. These include tiered interviews, taking references, psychometric testing, etc. but still we see the same problem people in the top jobs. It is time for a new approach.


360 degree reviews were established some time ago by industry to give employees a voice, make them feel better engaged and to try and manage the manager’s performance. Unfortunately this is a lagging control – it only identifies problems that already exist. We need controls to stop the wrong manager from getting the job in the first place.

It seems Senior Executives generally do all the interviewing and appointing of managers. They engage people because they believe they can align with the Executive’s strategy. They are hired because they have a reputation for delivering, but unless that strategy is to close a department, achievement of the objectives is typically reliant on the support of their staff. So why wouldn’t you give the staff an input into who leads them?

New approach

Consultation is known to bring about better engagement and outcomes. We do it in the safety world so we are all on the same page. It is used to ensure we’ve thought of all the issues before imposing change. We do it to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility for the change. Should we not use the same technique when engaging managers? Allow the workers who will report to the new manager to interview or engage directly with them.


Workers who are consulted will be more likely to make an effort with their Manager. They will be more likely to support the change rather than oppose it. More likely to help the manager than disengage with them.

The manager may benefit too in feeling more supported from the outset, knowing staff chose them over other candidates.

We are not saying that staff should have the final say as to who leads them. Just that their opinions can make a valuable contribution in the selection process. That involvement will increase the likelihood of hiring a manager the staff get on with and whose views they can will align with. You are also telling your staff that their opinion matters. That ultimately must help deliver the strategy.

Sometimes a manager is hired to be a disrupter, but even then staff’s opinion matters. Staff are better placed to identify the potential impacts that any disruption will cause. And these are things the manager will need to consider in their change management planning. Without staff providing these potential impacts, the change will be painful, and seriously interrupt work processes at some stage.

My dear Mum used to work in Social Services. When her boss interviewed candidates for a position they always went and asked how the receptionist found them. It was an attempt to get a full picture of the candidate, away from the false environment of the interview. It also served to show that everyone’s opinion mattered in the organisation.

A new manager will be given the power to improve your business or lose your best talent. The investment of another round of interviews by the people they will ultimately manage must be worthwhile.


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