Taming a Toxic Workplace

How to tame a toxic workplace

Taming a toxic workplace- Many people come to us for help getting a new job, reporting that their current organization is toxic. The leadership is unethical or unkind. Your colleagues are cutthroat. People are worked to the bone. Or there is just chaos and lack of clarity about the plan and expectations. Not to worry. Helping people find work they’ll love is what we’re here for!

But what if you want to stay at that organization for whatever reason? You love your team, the salary is unbeatable, or you’re thiiiiis close to earning your retirement benefits.

Or what if you’ve found numerous workplaces toxic? Could you be bringing a sub-par attitude to the table? Or being fragile when receiving business communications?

I’m Katherine Akbar, president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services. In this week’s career advancement video, we’ll talk about 10 ways to tame a toxic workplace.

If you are a manager or even an executive, you’ll have a big advantage in taming a toxic workplace: positional power. But let’s assume for a moment that you have no positional power. You are not off the hook. Repeat after me: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Anyone can shift a group’s culture by using social and emotional intelligence. Here are 10 ways:

10 ways to shift a group's culture

1. Drop the labels and create a vision of what you want. Even labeling your workplace “toxic” is dangerous to your own perception. Definitely, labeling colleagues or bosses as toxic is unhelpful. See if you can be specific in your own mind about what’s not working for you and what you want to see different. Be sure to use positive language when creating the vision. For example, “a workplace free of gossip” is harkening back to the negative. What you want to see is “a workplace where people’s privacy is maintained, and all are treated with respect,” maybe.

2. Develop an empowered sense of self. Decide that you will shift your behavior and observe how far out the positive ripples can reach. Treat people better than you think they deserve (because after all, what do you know about what they deserve? You only have a one-dimensional view). After treating people with extra kindness and giving them extra support, look for evidence that they are passing these forward to others.

3. If you are a manager, make sure you hire only people with great attitudes and ethics, and as strong interpersonal skills as their position requires. You can easily teach skills in most cases; teaching character is a really heavy lift.

4. If you are a manager or a teammate, make sure others know what is expected of them and that they have the information and tools they need to succeed at their jobs.

5. Stand by your values. For example, if you hear someone gossiping or being abusive to another employee, shut it down gently but firmly—for example, by saying, “I value everyone’s feeling safe and respected at work. Let’s make our communication constructive.”

6. If you are an executive or manager, and there are rumors of layoffs or other big changes, let people know what the situation is or when you’ll be able to provide more clarity.

7. If your organization is understaffed due to poor employee retention rates, volunteer to conduct exit interviews and provide the aggregated information gleaned to management.

8. If someone in leadership is unethical, are they at the very top? If so, you may want to move on. If not, you may want to find who is ethical at the organization and cultivate their appreciation by volunteering to help them achieve their goals as a way of getting a new position under them.

9. Someone is being super-competitive with you? Take it as a compliment and don’t make it your problem. Be sure the leadership knows what you have done with your team.

10. Leadership is making you work too hard? Is this due to lack of budget to hire more staff? Then you may have to work smarter, not harder. Or have a conversation with your boss where you agree that you’ll focus on priorities A and B and let C and D go to a vendor or get shelved for another time. If the crushing workload is due to poor employee retention, see if that’s an issue you can help solve. Or just put boundaries on what you are willing to do. Let your boss know you are your most effective at work when you have your free hours completely off to recharge. Make your hours at work really count so that no one begrudges you your time off.

Try one or more of these strategies and let me know below how far they go to tame the workplace you thought was toxic.

If you liked this video, please give it a Like and Subscribe so you don’t miss the rest of our Career Advancement series. If you want support on job search or career success, schedule a free Career Success Consultation at YESwriting.com if you’ve never had one. If you have had one, contact your client success manager about Career Advancement Coaching.

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