The Great Escape from a Toxic Work Environment

Toxic Work Environment

Recently, I had lunch with a colleague and he shared how miserable his job was. According to his account, he has admitted and does enough to keep under the radar. He has always been a positive, strong leader. I didn’t recognize the person on the other side of me who looked exhausted and defeated.

Although the description of the workplace environment was not representative of a team, it depicted a group of cliques, gossiping and backstabbing. Although it was common knowledge that his branch needed to be restructured, he admitted that he had made the work environment more difficult by voicing his concerns to the corporate staff and challenging certain actions. A colleague, who had recently left the company, made him aware of the high turnover in his job by reminding him that he was the fourth person to have held that position for less than three years. A number of his employees are also close to or know corporate staff members.

The despair that I saw was an omen of a painful experience in my early career. It was too much for me to deal with being depressed, anxious, and sick each day because I didn’t want to interact with my boss, who happens to also own the company. It became so taxing that I began to dread going to work every day and counting down the minutes until my departure. From the moment I entered my office, a feeling of regret overtook me. My demeanor changed from one that was a team-oriented leader to one that was more focused on the job. Her leadership style was characterized by being disrespectful, malicious, and instilling fear. The economic turmoil at the time caused fear among other managers, who were too afraid to leave but still wanted to go. Instead, they grew to accept the treatment and promised me that I would too. Verbally abusing someone is something no one should become accustomed to. Five months later, I resigned.

You will not have to work or try to lead in a toxic atmosphere. If this describes your workplace and it is not improving, you should implement an exit strategy immediately. You might find it difficult to leave because of your determination to make a difference. You have the right not to work in a hostile or dysfunctional environment. Consider how your work environment might affect your personal life. Here are some tips for those who are considering quitting.  

* Discuss with your partner what’s happening at work and why you want to leave.

* If you find it too difficult to continue your search for employment, you should have at least six months to one year of your salary saved (in case you need to wait longer to find work).

* Get started immediately with your job search.

If you’re in a leadership position, keep a positive attitude and not neglect your work and your team.

* Do not be vindictive if you leave (example: shredding documents that are important) as you could be perceived as the problem.

* Do not accept a job just to get out of your current situation. Make a huge mistake and thoroughly research the company before you accept a job.

* Vigilance is a powerful tool for interviewing. You will get a sense of the workplace environment by the way the receptionist or assistant greets you.

* Don’t be afraid, during the interview, to ask why this position is available and also to read the company’s reviews.

* Finally, research, research and more research.

Your boss may have reprimanded your tardiness, missed deadlines, rudeness, and other behavior that caused you to quit. You have the right to work in a hostile environment. There are many great organizations that will appreciate your contributions.