You Need Toxic Handlers More Than You Realize

Like any large-scale organizational change, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can be a time of stress and uncertainty. Employees fear they will lose their jobs. Rumours circulate. People focus on their own survival, resulting in a decrease in productivity as they are distracted by the drama around them. Pain itself is not toxic, but if emotions such as frustration, anger, worry and fear are ignored it’s likely that employees will disengage, unless someone intervenes and provides support.

If you want your staff to get on board with your M&A efforts, you need to recognize that emotional pain is normal and must be acknowledged and dealt with.

When employees aren’t given the opportunity to process their feelings those feelings can become toxic. In his best-selling book Toxic Emotions at Work: How Compassionate Managers Handle Pain and Conflict, the late University of British Columbia professor Peter J. Frost writes, “toxicity is a by-product of organizational life … toxins can spread and seep, often undetected, and poison individuals and entire organizations.” When this happens gossip, bullying, conflict, sabotage, disengagement and a refusal to get on board and move forward may be the result.

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lesley taylor
Lesley Taylor
Lesley Taylor is a Richmond, B.C.-based freelance writer.
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