Peter J. Frost and Sandra Robinson presents their research on The Toxic Handler: Organizational Hero—and Casualty in the July–August 1999 issue of the Harvard Business Review. They write that:
“Toxic handlers voluntarily shoulder the sadness and the anger that are endemic to organizational life.”
Toxic handlers alleviate organizational pain in five ways:
- “They listen empathetically.“
- “They suggest solutions.“
- “They work behind the scenes to prevent pain.“
- “They carry the confidences of others.“
- “They reframe difficult messages.“
But toxic handlers also pay a high price themselves in creating a life-giving environment within the larger toxic organization.
“Managing organizational pain is vital to the health of the enterprise—but at great cost to the health of the toxic handlers themselves.”
I wonder if it’s worth it to risk your health?