Workplace culture can be a complicated multi-faceted experience, but it truly stinks when it’s feeling horrible all over. A common buzzword I keep reading is “Toxic” which sounds like things are melting from all the stress and anxiety. Working somewhere that makes you feel unhappy, uncomfortable and stressed out has a huge impact on your overall happiness. You may be working somewhere gossipy, back-stabby, or simply reporting to a horrendous boss. In many cases, it may be an indicator to start looking for a new job, but in other cases, you may have some influence and the ability to reduce the toxicity in your office. Don’t forget that toxic workplaces can be slow to change, especially if they’re tied to specific employees, so you may need to continue to keep your options open.
Here are some ways you can reduce the toxicity:
- Recognize good work – you can do this as a manager or as an employee. It’s nice to recognize people for a job well done. It’s almost as nice as someone recognizing you, whether it be your boss or a colleague.
- Align expectations between managers and employees – this should be done often. If you’re a manager, make sure you’re connecting with your team on a regular basis. As an employee, you can send updates to your manager or meet with them directly. Either way this will encourage open communication and avoid any extraneous work.
- Forecast work to hire well – this is a difficult process, and in some smaller companies you simply may not have the tools to gauge this. What can help is a twice-monthly meeting with key leaders to get a feeling for what’s in the pipeline. Overworked employees can lead to burnout or some testy emotions.
- Encourage mingling to avoid office cliques – people can quickly feel unwelcome in their office if there are cliques. One way to avoid this is to simply encourage mingling. Mix up who works with who on projects or try having mixed outings. You could also try a “lunch date” system; having groups of people have lunch together who don’t know each other, on the company’s dime.
- Form a buddy system – if you’re becoming frustrated, there’s reason to believe there are others who feel the same way. Tread carefully, but finding people who agree can become your co-advocates for change. Through these conversations you may come up with some great collective ideas, and your buddies may have access to channels and management that can push things forward.
- Document everything – this is less fun, but if you’re thinking about calling it quits, it’s good to keep track of emails, conversations, etc. That way, you can cover your behind if there are any issues moving forward.
- Stay above it – by rising above the toxicity, not only are you having an incredible personal growth experience, you’re not compromising your personal integrity. And that’s important. Because your job is not your life, and you should try to live your life the way you want.
Good luck, and let me know if you’ve found other awesome tricks to make your workplace better.