Many of us have had the misfortune of working in a toxic work environment, where the workplace environment is filled with negativity and politics. It is irritating and can cause tension, anxiety, and dizziness.
Many years ago, I found myself working in a small country-house hotel and restaurant with a team of front-of-house people in front of the house who worked better together, but a new kitchen team. Who considered the employees in front of the house as enemies?
The kitchen team was led by a highly respected head chef who was a mediocre TV chef, and when he joined our hotel he insisted on bringing his team. This means that the current kitchen team was fired, without notice, and overnight we were dealing with a team of strangers.
They wanted to create a conflict where it had never been before.
Previously, the culture of this negative work was easy to manage. We stayed out of the kitchen as much as possible. But then one day, the general manager of the hotel left and was replaced by the head chef. From then on, it felt like open war.
I remember one evening when we finished our shift, and all the customers and the kitchen team sat down with their partner and discussed the situation. I was lucky because my partner was a little older and wiser than me, and had a forward-looking, philosophical approach to his life. They taught me that it doesn’t matter what environment you work in, if you focus on doing your best every day, and avoid getting caught up in politics. So you will rise above it.
Looking back, I’m glad I experienced this culture. I learned a lot about negative things in a toxic work environment, and the lessons I learned after that still help me today.
Here are seven lessons I’ve learned from working in a highly toxic work environment for two years.
1. Don’t Get Sucked in
We face choices in a toxic work environment. You may react negatively and be part of the problem, or you may rise above it. Rising above it does not involve provocation. Let the negative pass over you.
Instead, focus on doing the best you can. When you get to work, start your day. If you are in sales, focus on being the best salesperson. If you are in management, focus on making sure you are doing your job properly and on time. If you are a bar manager (as I was), make sure your bar is clean, stocked, and open for business when the first customer arrives.
2. Become a Beacon of Positivity
Attacks on your colleagues or a specific individual often lead to a toxic work environment. When you see this happening, becomes a stone of support for the person or people facing these attacks. Well, be careful and understanding. If you see your partner making a mistake, quietly correct the mistake or point it out slowly.
Never attack or be negative. Things like “Don’t let him down” never help. Instead, be a good listener, offer help, and take your attacking partner out for lunch and give them a place to talk.
In a toxic work environment, with an indecisive partner who offers help, an antidote to stress, anxiety, and fear is applied.
3. Have a Plan
The best way to stay away from negativity is to plan your day. How do you get started? What will you do by the end of the day?
Planning a day diverts your attention from the toxins around you and keeps you focused on your work.
For me, the first thing I did when I got to work was to clean my bar and make sure my fridge was stocked. I didn’t want to give the unpleasant team members an excuse to attack me. My goal was to set an example every morning, to be ready when the diners came in.
His focus on my day plan kept me away from politics. It gave me a positive purpose and enabled me to live beyond what was happening around me.
4. Stay Away From the Toxic People
It’s easier said than done. Sometimes, the poisonous people in your organization are your masters and inevitable. However, in most workplaces today, there are quiet corners where you can move your work forward.
Working in an open-plan office can leave us at the mercy of disturbing colleagues and owners. But if you can find yourself in a quiet corner where you can lower your head and work, you will, for the most part, stay away from the negative forces that work around you.
When you “hang out” with poisonous people, they drag you into their poison. You have a lot of work to do to tell you quietly and calmly, and moving to a different place reduces your risk of negative influences.
5. Talk to Your HR Department
This is where you need to be careful. When you are in a toxic work environment, you do not want to be involved in the game of blaming or blaming. Instead, you want to let your HR department know that you find it difficult to work with a particular person or team.
Wherever possible, say it’s your fault, not theirs – you don’t want to make things worse for yourself. Explain that to get your work done, you need to move somewhere else so that you can focus and focus more.
In a toxic environment, you will find that your HR team is fully aware of the problem and will understand your request, and will make every effort to accommodate you.
The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue. If the situation is preventing you from doing your job, you need to discuss this with HR, or if you do not have an HR department, your boss.
6. Work from Home
With the current global epidemic, the ability to work from home is more accessible than ever. Being able to stay out of your toxic work environment will allow you to focus on your work, not the workaround you.
If you have the option to work from home, do so. One of the things I’ve learned is that people who cause a toxic environment don’t last long in a company. They either move forward under their contract or are fired or move to another location where they can do less damage.
I have not deliberately advised you to quit your job, but if you feel stressed and scared, it would be better to look for another company. No one should work in a toxic work environment, and if you have taken all necessary steps to resolve the issue with your company and nothing has changed, you may want to take steps to quit.
I understand that this can be very difficult, especially in a difficult work environment, but it is not worth it to harm your health and well-being. If you need income, then start looking for a new job. The good news is that most companies don’t have toxic work cultures, and with a little effort, you should be able to find a new job.