Toxic Behavior

In our next issue of D.O.M. magazine, contributing columnist Dr. Shari Frisinger discusses toxic behaviors in the workplace. She shares insight on how to handle employees with toxic behaviors and how to work with a boss who is a toxic manager.

I have worked with a few mechanics over the years whose behavior could be considered toxic. They had poor attitudes and constantly complained. It seems like nothing was ever good enough for them. They were knowledgeable mechanics, but unhappy to say the least. Working with someone who has a negative attitude is not fun. Their attitude can make the other employees miserable. Even worse, the toxic behaviors can sometimes spill over to other workers – thereby creating a work environment of disgruntled employees. If this happens, it is very difficult to change the culture back to a positive one. It seems like no matter what we try to do, the group continues to have a negative perception on everything.
The worse case of a toxic workplace I have witnessed was when I visited an airline maintenance facility in early 2000. The airline and the mechanics union had been without a contract for almost a year, and all of the employees were unhappy. As I walked around and talked to some of them, each and every one of them was miserable. I couldn’t find one happy person. One mechanic told me that he got physically sick each Sunday because he knew he had to go to work the next day. He wanted a change, but his wife’s family was from the area and she didn’t want to move. There weren’t any other aircraft maintenance jobs in the area that paid anywhere near what he was making at the airline with his years of seniority. So there he stayed – miserable just like most of his coworkers.

The stress of working in an environment like that is high. That stress can affect productivity and worse – safety!

On the flip side, I have been fortunate to visit many facilities with a positive work culture. The employees are happy and work as a team. Productivity is high, and their customers are happy.

No work place is perfect, but we must do what we can to foster a positive work environment. If we hire someone who turns out to have a negative attitude, we need to address the problem before it creates a toxic work environment. If we choose to ignore the negative attitude just because he or she is a “good wrench,” we must be prepared to live with the consequences.

Want to learn more? Be sure to read Dr. Frisinger’s article on Toxic Behaviors in our upcoming April issue of D.O.M. magazine!

Thanks for reading!


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D.O.M. magazine is the premier magazine for aviation maintenance management professionals. Its management-focused editorial provides information maintenance managers need and want including business best practices, professional development, regulatory, quality management, legal issues and more. The digital version of D.O.M. magazine is available for free on all devices (iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle).

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