Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Toxic Cultures

“Love it, change it or leave it.”

It is, fundamentally, the situation many of us find ourselves in within our workplaces.

I’ve talked about it before.  And all you have to do is look up “employee engagement” in Google to see what is happening.

As Karen Kollenz-Qutard points out in her TedTalk – you have a fighting chance of changing your organization if you have

I’m at a point in my career where I don’t have the time or energy to bang my head against that wall if any of those three elements are missing.

We can talk all day about what is wrong and what “leaders” (read – others) should do about it.

I’m going to assume that anything that “leaders” and “others” will do is out of our control.

Furthermore, I am also going to assume that the “leaders” will not change their mind, change the way they operate, or be replaced anytime soon.  Often, the leaders are isolated from the impact of their behavior. Furthermore, keeping things status quo benefits them.

Assuming that the leaders aren’t going to change and the system we work in isn’t going to change – it means that it is up to us, individually, to make the change.

We need to take care of ourselves, even if it means removing ourselves from toxic environments.

If you are not in a position to remove yourself from the toxic environment right now – I have the following insights from my own experience:

  1. Disengage or distract yourself.  Psychopathic bosses do not deserve your energy or effort. You might as well put that energy and effort into something positive that empowers you. And in getting away ASAP. You won’t change them, no matter what your ego tells you. I learned this the hard way. Many times.
  2. Recognize the source of your insecurity.  Remember, they WANT insecure over-achievers.
  3. Spend the time getting very clear on what you want your life to look like and why. You will need that information to help you make decisions and evaluate options as you plot your next move.  (I can help you with this – click here for a free 60-minute chat).
  4. Find your tribe and be extra mindful with your colleagues, even the ones you don’t like.  Chances are, you are ALL suffering. If your leaders won’t model the behavior, you can.  Those individual interactions make all the difference.

It is imperative that, as knowledge workers, we focus our energies on creating supportive environments for ourselves and stop tolerating toxic environments.

Our health and our lives depend on it.


Donald Miller’s 40-minute interview with Dr. Lee Norton on mental health in the workplace.

Harvard Business Review: Evaluating Company Culture

First Round: Practical Frameworks for Beating Burnout

Tara Brach: The Capacity for Deep Listening (8 minutes)

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