“You have to think of your career the way you look at the ocean, deciding which wave you’re gonna take and which waves you’re not gonna take. Some of the waves are going to be big, some are gonna be small, sometimes the sea is going to be calm. Your career is not going to be one steady march upward to glory.” Alan Arkin

At one point or another, we have been in a toxic work environment, often they are unspoken secret. Many of us who have experienced such environments are too afraid to speak out, or leave, in case it reflects badly on us an employee and hampers future job prospects. The truth is to stay in a toxic work environment is much worse for your personal life, it can cause ill health, stress, depression and destroy your relationships. It takes a lot to leave a toxic job as it does to leave any toxic relationship. However, just like leaving a toxic relationship it does get much better and you look back and wonder why you stayed so long!

1. You’re told to feel “lucky you have a job.”

If you’ve ever heard this statement from your boss or HR, it’s a major red flag. This scare tactic is a means of threatening you into staying in a marginalized position and is symptomatic of an organization that thrives on bullying behaviour and control. The chances are you got the job due to the interview process and your ability to do your job. Being told you are “lucky to have this job” or “you won’t find anything better” is a way to bully you into staying or doing more than you are paid for.

2. Poor communication.

Do you feel like you’re left out of the loop regarding important information? A pervasive lack of communication characterises most toxic workplaces. You may get little to no feedback about your performance, and when you do, it’s negative and harsh — not the constructive type. You may be doing the work of two, three, or four people, yet it’s not unusual for your boss or colleagues to take credit for your accomplishments. If you’ve had a discussion with management or HR several times regarding a lack of recognition and a dearth of growth opportunities (such as promotions, raises, and challenging assignments), yet have seen no changes, it may be time to leave.

3. Everyone has a bad attitude.

If you walk into work and everyone around you is miserable a la “Office Space,” then you may be trapped in a hostile environment. In this type of office, there is no enthusiasm; no one coming in with smiles on their faces and no one ever says “I love working here.” A high turnover rate among employees is a good sign that people are fleeing very quickly, most likely because of their unhappiness and poor morale at the office. If a company has a high turnover rate then this is a very good sign that the company is a bad place to work, can you imagine people that love their jobs leaving in mass, there is a reason why they are jumping ship and its time to start looking for the life raft!

4. Dysfunction reigns.

Do meetings feel like a waste of time, inevitably blowing up into disorganised chaos where nothing is accomplished? Are the company’s operations disjointed and failing? Toxic workplaces are full of confusion, arbitrary deadlines, lack of focus, and a general malaise that “this is the way it’s always been done.” If new policies or regulations are constantly getting added, or if management is never around to help solve problems, these are symptoms of a larger problem stemming from poor leadership. If members of staff come forward with new ideas or a different way of working and they just get ignored because “this is always the way its been done” even when that way doesn’t work, then there is a problem and nothing is going to change.

5. You have a tyrannical boss.

This type of boss is always trying to control your every move and you feel as if he or she is just waiting to pounce on you for messing up. Toxic bosses usually unwilling to listen to others and feel as if their way is always the right way. Your boss loves wielding his or her power and showing others that they’re in charge. He or she probably isn’t willing to lend a hand to help in tasks or give you credit for a job well done. If you feel as if your boss would expect you to come to work even if you were on your deathbed, you might be experiencing a tyrannical and toxic boss. Sometimes it’s difficult to notice a tyrannical boss as they can come across as “a laugh” or “one of the group” they do this to have more control over you. If you find yourself saying “but he/she is really nice to me in other areas” That is just another way of controlling you, how many people stay in abusive relationships because “deep down they love them” or “they are only like that sometimes”.


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