Dragging your feet to work every day is stressful enough without competitive or gossipy colleagues to torment you. But you’ll never know when you’ll come across them, so you must be able to read the signs of a toxic work environment.
Everyone knows the boss or colleague from hell. These people take enjoyment out of work and knock the passion out of you. There are other signs that your work environment may be toxic, and we introduce you to them in this article.
How to Spot A Toxic Work Environment
You may feel that your workplace is toxic, but are afraid of being too sensitive. Here’s how you would know that it is.
1. Peer pressure
You’re probably familiar with this scenario. A new colleague puts in extra hours at work and exceeds performance expectations. Jealous colleagues tell him not to work too hard, or they’ll seem to be slacking.
The use of peer pressure indicates that the work environment of this organization is competitive to the point of being hostile. Employees shouldn’t feel the need to compare themselves with each other, as each of them should be able to make unique contributions to the company.
2. There is a meeting after the meeting
You raise concerns during meetings, and seemingly, everyone makes decisions together. And then, a select group of colleagues hold a meeting after that and conveniently forget to include you. The managers of other teams tell their subordinates that the ideas discussed during the previous meeting were terrible.
The next day, you find the decisions everyone made together refuted. In short, there is no synergy between the teams.
3. People let unprofessional behaviors be
Perhaps a manager mistreats their subordinate, or a coworker says things that they shouldn’t during meetings. While professional organizations address these behaviors, toxic ones will not. To avoid confrontation, they will just let the bad behavior be, hence sending the signal that they condone it.
4. People are dispassionate
An employee puts in 16-hour days at the company. She files and takes care of the odds and ends that need attention. No one can complete his or her tasks without her help. Everyone is grateful to her. But not enough to acknowledge her at office meetings; her tasks are just too menial.
Companies that don’t acknowledge contributions, no matter how small, will have employees that don’t perform their responsibilities with passion.
5. Employees shirk responsibility
If a company’s culture is supportive, people will usually be motivated to perform any task, no matter how small. A manager is willing to load the equipment if the machinist is absent. They do menial tasks without being asked. No one in a supportive workplace says, “It’s not my job.” Of course, work productivity increases.
6. People only value experience
Experience is valuable, but only if it means a better skillset and job performance. It’s meaningless otherwise.
For example, a team leader tells his subordinates that he is supposed to be a resource. However, he does nothing but sits in his office, waiting for someone to come by so that he can offer words of wisdom. A toxic work environment is full of people who don’t better it with their experience.
7. Idle or toxic gossip abounds
A supportive workplace has a boss who says, “From now, I don’t want to hear another negative word about other co-workers.“ Toxic workplaces, on the other hand, embrace gossip as part of their culture. Colleagues spend more time talking about how inefficient a coworker is than putting effort into work themselves. Undiginied words are intolerable at work.
8. People claim credit where it isn’t due
A coworker wins the “Employee of the Month” award. Perhaps he fully deserves it, because he did contribute much during the month.
The reality is that a person seldom achieves an award on his effort alone – he would have had the support of others. Good employees are willing to give credit to those who support them. They understand the value of shared success.
9. Employees let others take the blame for their mistakes
A toxic work environment has many Fall Guys. People make others take responsibility for their errors for the fear of being reprimanded or even terminated.
Conversely, a non-toxic workplace would have teams of people ready to assume responsibility for shortfalls. They know that their superiors would give them the encouragement they need to move forward.
How to Deal with It
You may have found out that the atmosphere at work is negative, but can’t leave your job for financial or other reasons. Stressful as it is, It doesn’t have to make you miserable. Here’s how you can fix the toxic situation at work, at least for yourself.
1. Avoid checking your mail before work
First, work-related tasks are bound to compound the stress that you feel. When possible, avoid checking emails outside work. You are needlessly spending time on negativity.
2. Start the day positively
Also, start the day off with positive activities like exercise or meditation. Doing what makes you feel good sets you up for positives during the rest of the day.
3. Make a work gratitude list
Feeling grateful for things at work may seem impossible. Still, there are always positives even when everything feels ready to fall apart at any moment. Think of how near your workplace is to home ore the shorter hours you spend.
4. Avoid coworkers who create conflict
The workplace troublemaker is a guaranteed staple in a toxic workplace. There is always conflict when he is around. Take special measures to avoid such colleagues, and don’t indulge in gossip.
5. Befriend like-minded colleagues
No matter how negative your work environment is, there will be considerate, compassionate colleagues who will redeem it. Being friends with such souls will make it easier to get through each day.
6. Record meetings
Do this if you know that you have work shirkers or complainers among your colleagues. Recordings on your phone will make it difficult for them to refute the statements they made.
7. Focus on self-improvement
If a selfish boss or colleague refuses to give you chances to attend skills improvement courses, sign up for them outside work hours. You will add to your skillset and prepare yourself for better opportunities.
In all, a toxic work environment is draining but not unmanageable. You can take small steps to make it bearable.