Toxic, abusive work environment is insidious. Hiding under the surface it stretches its tentacles.
As outsiders, we think everything is fine. But often, that's not the case...
Take a look:
An article [Fear is a Lousy Leader] I posted on LinkedIn has:
165,000+ reactions, 3,300+ comments, 187,000+ views, 16,900+ reshares
About 90% of people that have viewed the article have reacted to it. 90%!
That’s not all:
Many have reached out to me privately. Many are not commenting, reacting, or resharing because they are afraid to do so.
Afraid of repercussions. Afraid of getting fired. Afraid of losing their jobs.
Fear is a lousy leader, yes. But fear is also an awful companion. Walking on eggshells is no way to work. Working in a constant state of fear puts your health at risk.
Consider this scenario:
You are a recent hire. You have extensive experience. You are confident and know your craft. You realize the boss is out to get you. Nothing you do is good enough. Tasks and projects are moving targets with more plot twists than in a great mystery novel. You start to question your sanity. Is it you?
You try to have a conversation with your boss to sort things out, only to be told there’s nothing you can do.
You feel pressure mounting. Your productivity starts to suffer. You experience anxiety, frustration, depression. Fear has become your unwanted, constant companion.
You love your co-workers, and you love your job. You respect the leadership. You don’t want to quit. You don’t want to get fired.
It’s not just you.
Your colleagues are in the firing line too. The team bobs and weaves to avoid direct contact with the boss and hope to stay employed.
You are afraid to speak up. Yet you can’t remain silent.
What do you do?
This is a real-life scenario that is playing out today. Somebody is going through this very scenario right now.
What would you do?
Employees that can leave – leave. But if leaving isn’t an option?
There are varying levels and types of toxicity – some may be manageable, others not.
You may be able to change departments, find a workaround or figure out a way to fly below the radar. Or you may be dealing with severe workplace abuse.
Do not tolerate abuse.
When you love your job, your co-workers, and don’t want to leave, doing nothing is NOT an option.
What can you do?
If you are the employee at the receiving end of bullying or abuse at work:
Keep a record of conversations, and phone calls. Put things in writing whenever possible.
If possible (weigh your options) have a conversation with your boss. Use I statements. Don’t blame your boss or others. Keep your cool.
Take care of yourself
Exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep… – you know.
Reach out for help
Talk to a therapist. Talk to an attorney. Talk to a coach. Talk to HR. Talk to the leadership.
It’s not clear cut. Each situation is different. You need to come up with a gameplan that works the best for your situation.
If you talk to the leadership, or HR: Create a strategy and prepare.
- Stay professional, confident, and keep calm.
- Address the problem – not the person.
- Don’t play the blame game.
- Ask for advice.
“I’m having a difficult time dealing with X and am looking for some guidance or suggestions on how to improve the situation.”
The bottom line is:
You have a right to a peaceful, respectful, safe work environment.
If you are the leader – the executive, the director, C-suite, or the founder:
If you think there is no possibility of a toxic work environment in your organization – think again.
Do you have a high employee turnover? Are you getting negative reviews online? Is everybody quiet? Is somebody reaching out to you (but you are ignoring them)?
Consider bringing in an unbiased, outside consultant to assess your workplace.
Business consultants don’t usually get called in to check for a toxic workplace. You get called in for any and every other possible problem and situation. Most of the time, you run into it – if present – when you are digging in.
Sometimes the leadership prefers to excuse the behavior of a toxic manager or turn a blind eye. “We can’t afford to lose him/her.”
In reality, you can’t afford to keep him/her.
Bad managers/supervisors are one of the top reasons people quit their jobs.
If you are the boss or the manager:
Are you self-evaluating your performance?
Are you guiding, mentoring, and coaching your team?
Are you kind in your communications?
Does your team trust you?
Do you care?
The best thing each of us can do is look into the mirror -regardless of where you are in the organization.
What can I do better? How can I be better?
. . .
I don’t consider myself an expert in toxic workplace. I’m a strategist, coach, and consultant. I’m addressing this topic because I’m running into it more and more – at an alarming rate.
I’m not an attorney and I’m not a therapist. If you need help and guidance in these matters seek help from the respective professionals.
They say I should write here an impressive summary of my accomplishments, preferably talking about myself in the third person, to showcase my best professional self.
They say a lot of things...
I do the opposite.
I don't have a 7-minute solution to anything.
But I do have thoughts, insights, and experience, all of which I share with you.
You can't squeeze me into a box.
It's been tried, it didn't work.
What I am not:
I'm an author of no New York Times Bestseller.
I'm unranked as the top Modern Leadership Expert.
I'm (hopefully) somewhere in the 5,869,329 of the top creative and strategic minds in business & marketing. (crossing fingers)
I'm the un-influencer according to non-influencers everywhere.
I'm not the "father of anything" (duh).
I'm a listener to leaders (sometimes I speak, rarely do I whisper...)
I'm a speaker to many - of the topics that should be shared.
I'm a sharer of strategies and tactics to help you succeed.
In other words:
Modern Leadership Advisor
Strategy & Digital Marketing Consultant
Writer (a book you ask? it's in the works)