Escaping a Toxic Work Environment
I am having a bad Monday at work every day the week! I feel restless, there’s low morale, constant stressors, negativity, sickness, high turnover, and even bullying. Can you relate? WOW, what a list, however hang on…………………, there’s another better list ready for you to check where you’re at and then, you can choose what to do in your toxic work environment, before you leave the building! Leaders deal with challenges and this is an opportunity for change and better outcomes for you in the workplace. Take charge!
RAISE the AWARENESS of TOXITY
Manuela Priesemuth writes in HBR that, “Time’s Up for Toxic Workplaces.” Millions of people face abusive supervisors and bullies at work. These employees are targets of ridicule, threats, or demeaning comments by their manager on a daily basis, which results in decreased satisfaction, productivity, and commitment to the job as well as the organization at large.
While direct interactions with “bad bosses” can be traumatic for employees, the problem often goes further than a single individual. Indeed, some of my own research has shown that abusive behaviour, especially when displayed by leaders, can spread throughout the organization, creating entire climates of abuse. Because employees look to and learn from managers, they come to understand that this type of interpersonal mistreatment is acceptable behaviour in the company. In essence, employees start to think that “this is how it’s done around here,” and this belief manifests itself in a toxic environment that tolerates abusive acts. More so, studies have even shown that employees who experience abuse from a supervisor are also more inclined to “pass on” this type of treatment in a ripple effect.
Given the harmful consequences of abusive bosses, the question is what can be done to change this behaviour? The findings from my two latest studies suggest that we can structure work environments in a way that helps combat abuse:
- First, companies should increase awareness and educate managers about all costs associated with abusive conduct
- Second, companies can incorporate or strengthen anonymous feedback channels where employees can voice their concerns and report abusive experiences without fear of retribution
- Third, organizations need to uphold and enforce fair and ethical norms in all aspects of company life, because employees reflect upon these values before deciding whether to stand up to abuse or not
In all, by raising awareness about the costs for perpetrators and by constantly communicating fair values and norms that empower employees to speak up, we might be able to say that “Time’s Up for Toxic Workplaces.”
10 SIGNS YOU’RE IN A TOXIC WORKPLACE
Career Contessa indicates that “A toxic work environment is more than just a job you “hate.” We all have bad Mondays, challenging weeks, and even disappointing months. That’s the cyclical nature of a career. However, you’re typically able to make it through a bad Monday, survive a challenging week, and learn valuable lessons from a disappointing quarter.
A toxic work environment is like having all of these challenges on repeat, without a break. Toxic work environments breed unrest, competition, low morale, constant stressors, negativity, sickness, high turnover, and even bullying. Even worse? Toxic workplaces rarely stay at work. They typically follow you home. They take over your conversations with loved ones, steal away much-needed sleep, and generally cause worry and stress. Toxic workplaces can lead to stress, burnout, and serious disruptions in your normal life.
So, if you landed on this article because you’re wondering if your work problems are the result of generalized work stress or something worse, let’s dive into ten signs your workplace might actually be toxic. If any of these look familiar, it’s time for your workplace to shape up—or for you to think about finding a healthier place to work.
- Bad communication
- Cliques, exclusion and gossip behaviour
- Bad leadership
- Unmotivated co-workers
- Stifled growth
- Rapid employee turnover
- No work life balance
- You are battling burnout
- Little or no forward movement
- A gut feeling that things aren’t right
In addition, think toxicity “doesn’t happen” when you’re working from home? Think again! Just because you’re not face-to-face with your co-workers, a particularly toxic boss, or an overwhelming work culture does not mean that toxicity vanishes into thin air. If your brick-and-mortar office was toxic, then it’s likely that the same toxic behaviours will find a way to root their way into your work from home situation. It’s best to be as aware as possible.
BULLYING creates TOXIC WORKPLACES
My blog shows “How to Deal with Bullying.” We live in a stressful world and on top of that, bullying can show its ugly head in various forms, some obvious, others not so obvious. Whatever the form, there is no place for bullying, it creates toxic work environments, bosses run their own agendas and people suffer. Issues that may arise through bullying need to be addressed to ensure people are accountable for their actions.
ONE act of KINDNESS WILL make a difference
My Kindness and Courage Movement blog highlights how bullying effected my family. The day my 13 year old daughter Abby came home from school in tears because her best friend started bullying her was a day I will never forget. Her story is not uncommon. In turn, even today we hear many stories of bullying and poor leadership – and the impact it has on people’s lives, mental health, families, businesses and so forth.
In turn, we hear so many stories of poor leadership in the news and media and this impacts how our future generations see and feel about leadership. Also, there are lots of great leaders out there and we need to share their stories and celebrate their leadership. This is why we are on this movement to build a world of courageous and kind leadership. We know without a doubt that courageous leadership inspires action. We know kindness builds trust which is the missing link for Executives today. This is why in our leadership work, programs, awards and coaching it is a fundamental focus as we have seen the transformation.
The impact on kind and courageous leadership does not only make a difference at work but in every aspect of our lives. We need our children to see that as fast as the world is changing and as scary it seems, that we are all human and there is hope. It takes kindness, leadership and courage. Remember we can be strong as leaders and show kindness. We can be courageous as leaders and show fear. We can all be leaders without the title or role. It’s an attitude, choice and action. It only takes one act of intentional kindness and courage to make a difference.
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