We all know that there are toxic employees as well as toxic workplaces, while there are ideal ones too. Reasonable managers will prefer the ideal ones, but dark managers can think differently.
Before explaining why, I’ll have to talk about different types of employees when interacting with different types of workplaces according to their toxicity(in an oversimplified manner):
- This employee can not only work ideally regardless of whether the workplace is ideal or toxic, but also change a toxic workplace into an ideal one.
- This employee can work ideally regardless of whether the workplace is ideal or toxic, but can’t change a toxic workplace into an ideal one yet.
- This employee can work ideally in an ideal workplace, but will malfunction in a toxic workplace. They’re not capable on changing the workplace significantly yet.
- This employee will malfunction regardless of whether the workplace is ideal or toxic, but at least won’t change an ideal workplace into a toxic one yet.
- This employee will not only malfunction regardless of whether the workplace is ideal or toxic, but also change an ideal workplace into a toxic one.
Clearly, in the eyes of a reasonable manager, everything should be this straightforward:
- Type 1 should be aggressively hunted for, even with very high cost, as the return on investment is so high that they deserve to have special offers with special privileges. However, such employees are so rare that only the best companies can afford to rely on them, as the rest of the companies may not be so lucky to even be able to reach them.
- Type 2 should also be aggressively hunted for, but they’re easier to be reached as the supplies are not as scarce as that of Type 1. The return on investment is still high and they still deserve excellent packages, but treating every one of them as special talents would cost too much for most companies. Bear in mind that only good companies can have access of them, as they’re still capable enough to avoid bad companies.
- Type 3 should be the worst employees that are still tolerable, but in reality they usually end up being the most common type. Therefore the company must be responsible for maintaining an ideal workplace so they can keep working ideally. While this should be easier if the company has at least 1 Type 1 employee, the company shouldn’t rely on them.
- Type 4 should be gotten rid of as soon as possible, but in rare cases keeping few of them around can actually be useful. For instance, when there are noncritical routine jobs that almost no one wants to take, the company can assign these dysfunctional employees for those tasks. Just makes sure they’re not touching anything critical nor working on anything that is depended by anything critical, and they can be effectively quarantined.
- Type 5 should be gotten rid of immediately at all costs, as they’re cancers to the company. Like real cancers, they can cause the whole company to become toxic if they’re left unchecked. An excellent interview process should try its best to filter them out.
In the eyes of most dark managers(i.e., except the best ones), these employee types have a drastically different meaning and thus need to be treated dramatically differently:
- Type 1 should be gotten rid of immediately at all cost, as only the best dark managers can employ dark management without relying on a seemingly ideal yet actually toxic workplace. Clearly, these employees are serious threats to those dark managers. In the worst case, these employees can even end up getting those dark managers fired.
- Type 3 should also be gotten rid of as soon as possible, as their dysfunctionality will be a direct manifestation of the toxic workplace maintained by those dark managers. If those employees work ideally in other workplaces, it’d be nearly impossible for those dark managers to defend themselves, especially when everything else are nearly the same. Therefore, these employees are just minefields waiting to explode, at least from the perspective of those dark managers. It’s just too dangerous to keep any of them around.
- Type 5 is almost always necessary for those dark managers, but only very few of them are needed, as having too many of them will actually harm even those dark managers. They’re valuable as they’re ideal scapegoats for those dark managers — When the dark management is about to be revealed, those dark managers can simply shifts most, if not all, of the responsibilities to those toxic employees, and then openly get rid of them while gaining credibility and reputation in a covert and elusive manner. After that, those dark managers need to secretly recruit new toxic employees to keep having scapegoats.
- Whether Type 2 or Type 4 should be the majority depends on whether those dark managers want their employees to work ideally or dysfunction. The former case means that Type 2 employees are preferred, as those dark managers can use their ideal performance to defend their workplace and cover the underlying dark management; The latter case means that Type 4 employees are preferred, as those dark managers can blame those dysfunctional employees instead of admitting that they’re dark managers.
Combining, a reasonable manager and dark manager will have very different teams and treat them very differently. The former will probably consist of very few Type 1, some Type 2 and many Type 3, meaning that the composition is a traditional pyramid; The latter will probably have very few Type 5 and many Type 2/4(depending on whether having ideal performance is advantageous to the dark manager), meaning that the composition is a reversed pyramid. So this nature can actually be a warning sign when inspecting a manager:
- If a manager has at least 1 Type 1 employee, then that manager is nearly impossible to be a dark manager, unless he/she’s the best of the best in dark management.
- If a manager has almost no Type 3 employee, then that manager is either the best of the best reasonable one, or is just a typical dark manager. Note that a stupid dark manager can have lots of Type 3 employees as he/she’s just too inept on dark management.
- If a manager has lots of Type 4 employees or at least 1 Type 5 one, then it’s such a severe red flag that the manager should be assumed as a dark manager until proven otherwise. After all, a reasonable manager needs to be really, really bad on management to let it happen in the 1st place, and such managers can be just as harmful as dark managers.