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Published on April 9, 2019

Signs of a Toxic Workplace and How to Deal with It

Signs of a Toxic Workplace and How to Deal with It

Nobody should be forced to endure the pain of a toxic workplace, yet millions of Americans labor day in and day out in harsh conditions that suppress their identities and submit them to countless injustices.

Rather than wallowing away in a toxic workplace and allowing your hostile coworkers to eat you and your potential alive, you need to learn to recognize the signs of a toxic workplace, so you can effectively deal with it.

Here are the signs of a toxic workplace, and the steps you’ll need to take in order to ensure a healthier work environment and brighter future for your career.

Signs of a Toxic Workplace

1. You’re Cut out of Communication

One of the earliest warning signs that you’re in the midst of a toxic workplace is that you’re finding yourself cut out of communication.

Many women and people of color in particular can attest to the fact that some workers will receive an email where a number of people are CC’d, only to respond to a selective number of the CC’d employees while leaving others in the dark.

Frequently, toxic coworkers will try to silence you or shut you out of the conversation entirely because they don’t want you to contribute ideas that may get you noticed instead of them.

Women at work should be particularly aware of this problem, as countless women in the workplace are familiar with sexist cultures that mitigate their ability to communicate effectively with the rest of the team. According to the Harvard Business Review, women need to take special steps to ensure they’re heard in the workplace rather than allowing toxicity to breed around them.[1]

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If you don’t learn to speak out when you’re getting cut out, you’re going to keep wallowing in isolation forever.

2. Others Take Credit for Your Ideas

Everyone who’s been working for a few years is familiar with the infuriating circumstance where you put forward a new idea, get a lacklustre response, and then witness your coworkers steal your idea and receive credit for themselves.

Colleagues who take credit for your work are more than merely frustrating – it can be downright stressful and even threatening to your career.

Learning how to subvert your colleague’s efforts to make off with your ideas and claim them for your own is an important part of conquering a toxic work environment.

Focus on immediately setting the record straight and learn how to take credit proudly for your own work,[2] and you’ll soon discover that your workplace is noticeably less toxic and insufferable than before.

Besides watching out for greedy coworkers who are eager to steal your ideas, you should also be on the lookout for signs of a toxic workplace like…

3. You’re Not Being Fairly Compensated

One of the biggest warning signs that you’re in a toxic workplace is that you’re not being fairly compensated for the hard work, you’re putting in on behalf of your boss.

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Far too many companies manage to get by with paying their employees criminally low salaries, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit down and quietly endure tiny paychecks that don’t match the effort you put in every day.

Wage gaps can be an incredibly difficult thing to approach, however, with many employees having struggled and failed to attain a raise despite their hard work and pristine records.

It’s imperative to understand that you can’t sit idly by and allow a gender pay gap or any other sort of pay discrepancies exist in your workplace – if your boss can exploit some of his or her employees, there’s little to stop your boss from exploiting all of them.

You need to understand that getting fairly compensated is about more than blaming your coworkers when they receive higher salaries than you. Overcoming the pay gap in the workplace requires the constant vigilance of everyone in the office, as you need to stand together in the fight for a good day’s payment for an honest day’s work.[3]

How to Deal with a Toxic Workplace

Learn How to Negotiate

Now that you’ve come to recognize the gravest warning signs of a toxic workplace, you need to start equipping yourself with the tools and skills needed to reshape your workplace culture.

Learning how to negotiate is a great place to start, as you’ll quickly discover that you need to argue your boss’ ear off if you’re going to get meaningful concessions from them.

Effective communication is the first step in winning any negotiation – you need to clearly establish what you’re seeking from the other party.

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If your boss is harassing you, for instance, or if your coworkers are making you feel uncomfortable and stealing your yogurt, you need to make it quite clear that things need to improve quickly and suddenly; or you’re finding employment elsewhere.

Never forget that you have rights and privileges which can’t be revoked just because your boss wants to earn an extra penny or two.

You’ll want to speak with your coworkers to see if they’re suffering from any issues related to workplace toxicity, too. You can make a much more effective case to your company’s senior officials that change is sorely overdue if you have the backing of most of the workforce.

Oftentimes, your boss may be entirely unaware of the fact that a number of his or her employees are struggling in the first place.

Become an Advocate for Change

You need to become an advocate for change in the workplace by modeling the better way to do business. Rather than shunning your coworkers, for instance, you should be welcoming them with open arms and trying to instill a cheery nature in your office.

Workers who don’t get along with one another are unlikely to overcome workplace toxicity together, after all.

Becoming an advocate for change also necessitates that you keep your ego in check – you may not want to admit it, but your coworkers may be egged on towards toxic behavior as a natural response to unfriendly behavior originating from your cubicle.

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Learn to calm down and take a glass of clean water to help you relax. It can be quite easy to accidentally offend a coworker without ever realizing it, for instance, so constant self-awareness and an ability to detect your own mistakes is an essential part of overcoming workplace toxicity for good.

If you feel that you got off on the wrong foot with a certain coworker and are struggling to deal with their toxicity,[4] you may need to talk to your boss or HR to mediate some conflict resolution between you two.

It’s also important for you to understand that workplace toxicity doesn’t only happen in the workplace – a boss who demands you keep working and check your emails after you’ve clocked out for the day, for instance, is creating a toxic workplace that follows you into your home environment.

Becoming an advocate for positive change means you must recognize the way that our work sometimes chases us out of the office and hounds us even in the midst of our personal lives.

Summing It up

In conclusion, you need to keep an open eye out for harassment in the workplace while also realizing you can contribute to the toxicity of others with unfriendly behavior.

Once you’ve recognized workplace toxicity, talk to our fellow coworkers and establish a game plan for raising the issue with your boss.

Finally, don’t let yourself get burned out in fighting workplace toxicity – after all, treating yourself with respect and giving yourself some occasional time off is the only way to ensure you don’t become toxic yourself.

Featured photo credit: Rashid Sadykov via unsplash.com

Reference

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How Do You Measure Success? Here’re 10 Better Ways

How Do You Measure Success? Here’re 10 Better Ways

“Larry is a failure at everything except life.”

That was a memorable line from a somewhat forgettable Ted Danson movie in the 1980s. Pithy, it did encapsulate one eternal truth, namely that life is the goal. Making the most of one’s limited time in this world is the core measure of success.

So how do you measure success?

Money is meaningless until you do something good with it. Fame is fleeting and tertiary at best. But life and how you live it – in business, in family, in everyday interactions – is the true measure of accomplishment.

The Inside and Outside of Success

Life occurs within and outside of you. The two – yourself and everyone else – are interconnected. Their lives, and thus their success, are influenced by you and your success which is influenced by them.

It becomes clear that any measure of “success” cannot be one dimensional. There are many metrics, but if a person looks only at those that directly affect them, then they lack a complete measurement. It is good to succeed in business, but it is important to succeed in life. The two are not mutually exclusive, and in some ways positively reinforcing.

10 New Ways of Measuring Success

For a Successful Business

In business, it is not always the bottom line that defines success. I won’t argue against it – profitability is the first rule of business, because unprofitable companies do not survive. Just beyond that are some success measurements that are nearly as important:

1. Hitting Your Goals

If you call “8 ball in the side pocket” and scratch, then you failed to hit your goal. Knowing and achieving your business goals is important.

But goals in business have many manifestations. Aside from profitability, some business goals include growing your market share, disrupting a market, having very high customer satisfaction rates, reducing product defects, and more, and more, and more.

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However, you cannot achieve your business goals unless you know what they are, communicate those goals to your employees, and measure the results. Many people in business are vague about their goals. They are not clear in making everyone in the company embrace the goals or checking on progress.

None of these success-generating steps is difficult, but success will likely not come without them

2. Growing Your Business

“Growth” is quite personal, even to an executive.

In this, a business is a bit like a child. As the business’s parent, you get a certain satisfaction in raising it, helping past the stumbling toddler years, seeing it blossom into adulthood, and ever expanding its horizons. In the process, you grow the lives and fortunes of your employees, your shareholders, your community and your country.

3. Low Turnover

According to an article in Forbes, the turnover rate is the highest it has been in a decade. My company, Micrel, had the lowest employee turnover rate in our industry, as well as having the highest “boomerang employee rate (people who left the company and decided to come back).[1]

This form of success is a reflection of the corporate culture you created. A bad culture creates a high turnover rate, and a good culture a low one.

4. A Well-Balanced Life

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, and often a jerk. The reason is that life is not work, only a part of it. A wealthy captain of industry that never takes long and relaxing walks holding the hand of a loving spouse is not a success.[2]

Measuring balance in your life is non-productive. But when you lack balance, it is easy to measure. The shortfall of joy, the failing health, the shattered marriages, the estranged children … these are the heavy weights placed on the wrong said of life’s scale, and they are a clear enough measure.[3]

5. Sharing Your Success with Others

Ebenezer Scrooge, and Jacob Marley before him, horded their wealth. It cost Marley everything.

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“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Sharing is perhaps the true measure of all success, be it a wealth of money, time, patience, knowledge, wisdom or good will.

For a Successful Life

Which brings us to the non-business side of the business life. As your business affects your personal life, so too does your personal life affect your business. The two cannot be separated. Some elements that should be on your success scorecard include:

6. Good Health

The enjoyment of life is at best incomplete in poor health. At worst, it is hellish.

Now take poor health outside of your body. How does being sickly affect your company (when you cannot lead fully), your family (their support and their stress over you), your community (when you can no longer serve)?

Good health is a gift unto itself, but also to everyone you touch. Don’t cheat anyone out of your good health. Do what is necessary to keep your machine in good working order as the first imperative toward success.

7. Healthy Family

Family is love and support. Every person’s role is to grow their family, to stay connected, to provide love and support. In that giving to others, you improve their lives while improving yours.

It also lays the groundwork for you receiving love and support when you need it. If you are launching a business and taking the risks that go along with it, you will need that love and support.

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8. Learn to do the Tough Things First

In or out of business, we are all faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But we humans have this funny knack of overcoming them.

Indeed, we do it so routinely that out sight miracles that go against nature – flight, the internet, leaving the planet on rocket ships – has become almost blasé.

None of these things were accomplished instantly. They were the result of many small successes. The ones that happened fastest were where a person or a team looked at all the problems, took on the biggest and toughest first, then conquered it. They did the Tough Things First, which made the rest of the project much simpler and more exciting for everyone.

This applies to daily life as well as business. If you are planning to relocate your spouse, several children, pets and all your worldly belongings across country, the task likely looks overwhelming. But the moment you prioritize the list of tasks, and knock the biggest and ugliest off the list, the rest seems like a cakewalk.

9. Being a Teacher

One of the highest compliments I ever received was from an industry analyst who said that I was a “teacher”.

Yet we all are, or can be, teachers. It may be providing basic life lessons to a child on your knee, instructing an employee in complex processes or technologies, or even teaching by example via living a good life.

For me, one joy has been writing a good book on management and leadership, and another about the intersections of people, society and business. It is by teaching, and in my case writing, that you directly benefit others.

Life can be complex, filled with many topics and problems. By sharing knowledge and wisdom, we lead others past difficulties and on toward their own greater success.

10. Dignity and Honor

My marketing director is a proper Southern Gent, which is easily discernible by a well-honed sense of honor. You don’t have to be a southerner to live a life of dignity and honor, but if you are male you do have to be a gentleman.

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Dignity circles around self-respect and honor involves acting with honesty, fairness, and integrity. The latter leads to the former. Indeed, you cannot have self-respect without practicing the basic virtues of honesty, fairness, and integrity.

Why is this a measure of success? Because we humans are social animals, and society exists only because of trust.

Honesty, fairness, and integrity are the cornerstones of trust, and thus the foundation of society. A person is truly successful when they add to society.

Final Thoughts

All this brings us back to the dictionary definition of “success”, which is:

“the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.”

You may or may not be a businessperson, but you are always a person. Your endeavors are both in and out of the office. Since each sphere affects the other, the true measure of success lies in how you managed your affairs in all facets of existence, for they cannot be viewed in isolation.

More About Success

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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