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Toxic Emotions at Work and What You Can Do About Them Paperback – April 1, 2007
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About the Author
Peter J. Frost is the Edgar F. Kaiser Professor of Organizational Behaviour on the Faculty of Commerce of the University of British Columbia.
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Contents: Emotional Pain in Organizations; Sources of Toxicity in Organizations; The Work of the Toxic Handler; The Toll on Toxin Handlers; Healing the Healers; At the Interface - What Handlers and Their Organizations Can Do; Leaders Handling Pain; The Compassionate Company - Architecting Responses to Pain; Looking through the Lens of Pain; Notes; Index; About the Author
The premise of this book is that every organization has toxicity in it when it comes to emotions and interactions between employees and management. While that's to be expected, the real problem comes in with the people who unofficially deal with that toxicity. Frost calls them "toxic handlers", and they are critical to the functioning of a company. These people are the ones that soak up the irrational and emotional behavior of those above them, and then filter out the toxins in order to pass along the message to those who need to do the work. Likewise, they are also the "go-to" people when others are having emotional difficulties and need someone to talk to. The problem lies in how the handlers deal with the constant barrage of garbage that comes at them. If they internalize and take on the pain of others, there's a very good chance that they will end up frustrated and burnt-out. Then when they leave, everything crumbles down as there's no one to absorb that pain any longer, as their function was not recognized. But by following many of the steps and suggestions offered here, it's possible to successfully play that role and still not end up as a victim yourself. Frost also covers how organizations need to recognize the people who play these roles, understand the stress and pressure they're under, and give them the assistance they need to not become a casualty.
Having worked at Enron nearly up to the end, I can readily identify with everything in this book. And in a number of areas, I tend to be a minor toxic handler, in that I'm concerned about the well-being of others in any particular structure I'm part of. I also can now see a number of people who I've worked for who are major toxic handlers, and I think I have a better idea on how best to help them do their job better...
An excellent read, and one that could change the way you view your official (and unofficial) org chart...