Do You Have a Toxic Project Environment? The Most Common Signs

Adriana Girdler

Indicators that your project environment needs some help (and what to do about it!) A toxic project environment will not only hinder your project, but …

Indicators that your project environment needs some help (and what to do about it!)

A toxic project environment will not only hinder your project, but also create stress in your personal and professional life.

Nobody wants that.

It’s important for you to know how to identify a toxic project environment and ways to combat it.

Here are some must-know signs of a toxic project environment and how to deal with them.

Project Confusion

When nobody is on the same page, or when people are unclear about their roles and responsibilities, this is the first sign that you are heading towards a toxic project environment.

When you notice this confusion start to creep up, you need to do something about it immediately! Otherwise, the unclarity of expectations can snowball into complete dysfunction if you don’t tackle it right away.

So, how do you fix project confusion?

The first thing is to get the group together and address the confusion. Go through the roles and responsibilities and ensure that everyone agrees to them.

Something else you can do is to take out your charter and review it again to ensure that everyone agrees and has signed it. If they don’t like something about it, spend time discussing that.

Lack of Communication

This ties into the last sign, project confusion, because if you’ve got project confusion then you’re most likely already on the pathway to a lack of communication throughout your project.

When everyone is in their own lane doing their own thing, they may have issues or hidden agendas that are coming to the surface because of that lack of communication.

So, how do you address this?

You need to make the expectations around communication clear. Properly document everything as you go along, including meeting notes. This will save you in countless situations because it enables you to pull up the agreements that your team settled on and challenge them in a productive way.

More Signs of a Toxic Project

These aren’t the only signs of a toxic project environment that you need to be looking out for. Check out the YouTube video I made that goes into depth on a few more toxic project signs so that you can ensure those toxic characteristics don’t derail your project.

If you want to ensure you not only eliminate that toxic project environment but also have a super successful project, make sure you check out my SLAY Project Management course where I give you all the templates, tips, and techniques to implement to make every project successful.


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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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