Toxic Work Environment
Being ready to take charge of your professional development is critical when dealing with a toxic work environment. Your ability to effectively deal with this type of work environment will be determined in large part by how you perceive the issues that arise as a result of the behavior of the people around you. In an environment where your boss is repeatedly belittling you and your colleagues, you may begin to question your abilities. It’s natural to feel resentment toward someone who is giving you negative feedback. But if you continue to respond defensively, this hostility will only increase.
If you’re thinking about venting your frustrations or expressing your frustrations to your boss in a way that could get you in trouble, do so in a manner that doesn’t make you a target for further backlash. If you’ve noticed that your boss is cutting you slack or giving you tasks you aren’t sure you can perform, put together a “job analysis” to determine just what it is you need to do to raise your performance. Write down your goals and compare them to your skills and knowledge. Often, a toxic work environment will make it difficult to identify where you need improvement.
Once you have identified the problems that are causing you to feel resentment, create a plan to effectively deal with those issues. Some people find that creating a formal written response plan helps them to focus their energy and get a handle on the situation. Others prefer to write down their thoughts in a journal, then respond to them in a formal written format when applicable. Regardless of which response plan you choose, make sure it clearly outlines your expectations and provides for your internal guidance to help you move ahead.
The toxic work environment can also erode your self-confidence, resulting in low productivity and an inability to stay motivated. If you constantly feel as if you aren’t good enough for any task, project, or assignment, it will affect your performance. Make a list of your skills, any certifications you may have, positive supervisors you may have worked with, and your overall professional outlook. Consider what you are good at, and what you need to improve on. Put together a shortlist of suggestions for areas you need to consider improving.
In the workplace, you have no control over what other employees and co-workers think, say, or do. Be aware of how you act or speak to co-workers who may make remarks about your performance or actions. If you find yourself making comments about another person’s performance or job conduct, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. It may be difficult to talk about these issues with others in the office environment, but you have to draw the line if you expect to enjoy a healthy work environment. Remember that you are a unique individual with your own set of qualities, characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and vices. You have to treat everyone else who is a part of your professional network with caution, but when you are facing a toxic work environment, you have to speak out.
Your employer has the legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all of its employees. Workplace violence is a real and present danger in many industries, but even in those which are not inherently violent, a toxic work environment can lead to harmful interactions between coworkers. This can result in verbal or physical abuse, inappropriate sexual harassment, and other conduct that can place employees in harm’s way.
The best course of action for someone who is dealing with a toxic work environment is to communicate to their boss immediately and inform them of their concerns. If you are the victim of this type of workplace violence, be sure to document everything that happens, both verbally and in written forms. Make sure that you keep copies of every file you create that pertains to this matter.
There are several steps that you can take to ensure that you know how to respond in a toxic work environment. If you are unsure about how to handle a given situation, consult with an attorney who specializes in the area of occupational health and safety law. They will be able to assist you in creating a safe environment free from harm.