What are the signs of "toxic positivity" in team management?

1.1k views17 Upvotes86 Comments

Director Of Information Technology in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Letting staff know that things are getting better. Being positive!!!
Computer Science Lecturer in Education, 51 - 200 employees
When it fails to acknowledge the existence of a problem.
When it minimizes a real problem with "feel good" attitude or statements.
The attitude like "It could be worse", or "everything happens for a reason".
13 1 Reply
Senior Director, Supply Planning, Philips Connected Care in Healthcare and Biotech, 10,001+ employees

Completely Agree Alfred - for example, when program/projects negotiate to turn 'red' indicators to 'green' to make the program team look better in front of a steering committee. This can lead to surprises when results are ultimately not delivered as expected, and missed opportunity to leverage the power of the steering committee to help solve the problem.

Director of IT in Software, 10,001+ employees
Since this question is asking specifically in the context of team management, a sign of toxic positivity is when all managers, during a manager meeting, only provide status updates on projects or tasks that are going well, when there are well known problems or project risks that should be addressed.  This prevents senior management from focusing discussion on the areas that really need attention.
Director of IT in Manufacturing, 10,001+ employees
Saying everything is going to be OK and we are well on our way to success without any real plan to back it up .

VP of IT in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
when you are not being transparent or honest with your team. when you are only highlighting positive things (that the team is aware) which are not really positives. Your team will see right through that and you will lose credibility.
VP of IT in Real Estate, 201 - 500 employees
Toxic positivity can be a very dangerous thing in that those participating either fail to acknowledge that there are any problems/setbacks or they don’t know what to about them and instead try to force positivity in the team, which in most cases would likely eventually result in losin top talent from the team.
2 1 Reply
CEO, Self-employed

Absolutely agree Eric. Have seen first-hand how top talent have left companies because of constant 'lets do more positivity training' rather than looking at better ways of working, or working together or addressing issues - both in terms of their hands being tied when dealing with staff or the organisation as a whole. 
It's a Stepford-wives falsehood that doesn't address issues that need to be sorted out for businesses and individuals to grow

Vice President Information Technology in Finance (non-banking), 201 - 500 employees
In the context of team management, the toxic positivity is hiding the real problems from being surfaced out or avoiding discussion on prevailing risk factors.
Chief Information Technology Officer in IT Services, 201 - 500 employees
When you manager avoid bad news and never complain. Turn everything to be ok but sometimes it is ok not to be ok!
2 1 Reply
Community Manager (IT and InfoSec) in Travel and Hospitality, 5,001 - 10,000 employees

Thanks for this add Didier, I personally feel as well that vulnerability is one of the best traits a manager or leader can have. "We are all in this together" and it is still constructive to sympathize when we get bad news.

COO in Healthcare and Biotech, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Being so overly positive and upbeat that you ignore the signs of an underlying problem, or refuse to acknowledge that a problem exists.

Team members don’t want constant negativity or a feeling of gloom.

But they also don’t want to feel that their leaders or living in a dream world or Pollyanna state, unable to accept that anything could be wrong. Strong team members see right through that, and they will leave in a heartbeat.

The key is to acknowledge the truth and speak transparently, but also to share the plans for improving a challenging situation.
CIO in Education, 201 - 500 employees
Toxic positivity has taken hold when people do not want to hear the "reality" of the situation but prefer instead to carry on like everything is fine. I see this mostly when it comes to cultural issues that need to be addressed but seldom are because doing so would be focusing on the negative. 

Content you might like

Yes, that's what's best for employees.71%

No, that would disrupt business.28%


3.3k views4 Upvotes4 Comments

CTO in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
Read More Comments
46.6k views133 Upvotes324 Comments

Community User in Software, 11 - 50 employees

organized a virtual escape room via https://www.puzzlebreak.us/ - even though his team lost it was a fun subtitue for just a "virtual happy hour"
Read More Comments
13.4k views27 Upvotes67 Comments