Unfortunately, toxic workplaces are commonplace in today’s day and age. A toxic work environment can be characterized by a culture of dysfunctional dynamics. These dynamics can play out in a number of ways: inequity, unaddressed conflict, harassment, or even just general lack of communication. Usually organizational or corporate culture is driven from the top-down, and if the leadership inflicts toxic tactics, it can be very difficult for those not in charge to shift the culture.
There are a large number of people who work in offices or within organizations that have established toxic work cultures, practices and hostile co-workers. It’s easy to assume that things are just the way they are and there’s nothing you can do… but nobody should have to wake up every morning and dread going to work in a toxic workplace.
Below are some signs to watch out for so you can avoid the long-term problems that come with a bad work environment.
- Favorites – Managers who play favorites don’t just reward good performance; they give undeserving employees perks just because they like them.
- Having to protect yourself from hostile co-workers – It feels like co-workers are out to get you and you have to waste a lot of time ensuring you’ve cc’d the right people and are not going to be “caught” making a mistake. Following the chain of command within your company can help avoid any miscommunication or problems.
- Office cliques – Even though they don’t outwardly and openly state their views, groups of negative and sneering employees undermine every company initiative. There always seems to be a group of negative Nancy’s in every company. The best way to avoid getting caught up in the negative clique is to avoid gossip and stay positive.
- Hiring unqualified employees – When the newly hired staff is only there because they have friends high up, it shows immediately.
- Inequality – Sometimes there’s an individual who is a star employee, so they get away with bad behavior. Other times it’s the bad behavior with one of the company leaders that sets a terrible example. Or there is simply a malicious employee who has the ear of management. The individual acts as though they don’t need to follow the rules, and management allows it.
Although a workplace may be toxic one can hope that it is repairable. The first step is identifying the problem, and then you have the option to work to make it better.
Here is an example of some steps you can put in place to help solve the toxicity.
How can I contribute to changing my current situation?
What is currently limiting you? What’s stopping you from making a change?
Consider the possibilities. What options are open to you?
Examine your values, beliefs, strengths and skills.
Think about what steps you can take to improve your current workplace, or, begin to think about alternate places to work.
There are so many companies and countless opportunities in today’s world that being stuck in the wrong company might be toxic not only for your career but will also affect your personal. Put together a plan and a timeline to address the situation and if it is not resolved it’s time to move on!