How to Survive a Toxic Work Environment

Whether you are an entrepreneur, towing the corporate line or on any team, almost everyone has experienced trying to thrive or survive in a toxic work environment. There are a variety of situations, both macro and micro levels, where negativity and injustice can develop into bitterness, discontent, and downright misery at work. How do you survive working in a toxic culture?

Before we dive into the ugly aspect of working in this culture, it’s important to talk about what a healthy work culture looks like.

A positive environment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Everyone works together and embraces teamwork
  • Positivity is demonstrated and encouraged
  • The work and culture supports your own value system
  • Fulfillment is achieved at the end of the day
  • Your strengths and capabilities are being used effectively
  • You’re excited to get to work every day
  • Health and wellness is promoted as an essential part of maintaining high morale

We spend eight hours, or more, each day at work. These efforts to pursue our own passions and interests is what drives and motivates us every day. It’s essential that your work environment is a space where you can flourish and grow. That is why it is important to identify when an environment has become unhealthy or toxic.

Are you in a toxic culture right now? What does it look like?

  • Employees do not feel valued
  • Individuals are not fulfilled by their work
  • Morales /values are compromised in order to get the job done and to reach their goals
  • Poor leadership is demonstrated from any position in management, it starts with the ON Point leader, but can happen at any level
  • The team has “bad apples” that is emotional draining
  • The organization is unclear of their vision
  • Leadership has not taken the time to get buy-in from the team
  • There is a solid plan but weak execution
  • There is a lack of expectations, no feedback and no accountability

With over three decades of coaching, I have discovered that are few high-performing or extraordinary teams. A toxic culture springs from the top and infiltrates the rest of the company’s org chart. Even if a business has great senior leadership, toxic environments can be found on a smaller scale within the organization’s various departments, managerial staff and specific teams or groups. Everyone, on some level, is a part of a team. The sum of all these small groups is what affects the overall atmosphere and experience for people.

How do you survive and thrive this environment day in and day out?

It’s time to reflect and make moves towards creating a championship culture and mindset. Dealing with this type of work environment is very difficult. It affects your productivity, life, interactions with others, and more. Here are proven ways you can improve your situation.

  1. Mindset. You are tougher than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can, physically and mentally. Resilience is never ever giving up. In most situations, it’s not about you, but it’s the environment that was created and allowed to happen by poor leadership.
  2. Power of Positivity. Whether you’re in a cubicle, office, or boardroom – put up personal items or pictures that inspire and motivate you (quotes/family/dream vacations).
  3. Take a walk. Reflect. Use this time to really think about the issues in order to problem solve solutions or just to clear your mind.
  4. Positive self-talk. Change your inner voice to reflect on what you believe in, who you are, and why you are doing what you’re doing.
    Remind yourself of who you are, your values, and your purpose.
  5. Stay true to you. Don’t compromise your character or integrity. Be confident in who you are and continue to do the right thing, even when it’s difficult.
  6. Control the things you can control. Control your own attitude and work ethic. No one can ever take this away from you. Control your own actions – behaviors, moods, reactions. Everyone is watching and looking for someone positive to follow.
  7. Find ways to have fun. Take a new approach. Look at things through a different lens.
  8. Personal Development – Focus on improving yourself as a person and a professional – it will make you better, stronger, and more experienced. Challenges are life lessons and opportunities for growth.

Take a toxic experience and learn from it. Learn from a bad experience and situation in the management/leadership mistakes. We learn a lot from the good and the bad we all face and see every day.

Always take the high road and never lower yourself to the actions and behaviors from your dysfunctional environment. Strong individuals do not justify their own poor behavior because they are in an unhealthy environment. Be a positive leader, role model, and the person who can part of the solution.

How we leave toxic environments are as important as how we show up. People talk in business. If you behave poorly and have excuses for your poor behavior, the ramifications may follow you to your next job. Surviving a toxic environment is a mindset and strength. Be part of the solution and change, not part of the problem.