Healthy teams experience routine hassles and the occasional hiccup, but they bounce back quickly. A toxic workplace, however, has a completely different feel. Its effects are insidious. It can even be deadly — for the business, and maybe for the people who work in it.
What a Toxic Workplace Looks Like
Team members in a toxic workplace have high stress, low morale, physical and emotional illness, no work-life balance, unrealistic expectations, and dysfunctional relationships. The atmosphere is one of dread and negativity. Mistreatment of each other is commonplace. Hard work goes unrewarded, and communication has broken down. This is the normal, everyday pattern rather than the exception.
Six Signs Your Environment Is Slowly Killing You
Anxiety: You’re in a toxic environment if you find yourself in a chronic state of worry that you’re doing something wrong, or that if you make a mistake you’ll lose your job. You lose sleep from not being able to keep up with your workload. You have a sense of impending doom.
Anger: Are you constantly irritable, impatient, or angry? Do you feel you’re in danger of blowing your stack at any moment? A toxic workplace creates hostility. You may be angry because there are too many demands and not enough time to meet them. Perhaps you’re short-tempered when others make a mistake. You blame others when things go wrong and find yourself seeking revenge.
Lack of Control: There’s a sense of powerlessness that comes from feeling ignored or being unable to have a say in how your work will be done. When work pressures increase and you have little input, you feel undervalued, ineffective, and stuck. The same can be said if you’re ready for a bigger challenge, and there’s not one available to you. It’s unnerving to think that the people in charge either don’t know or don’t care about what’s going on.
Lack of Confidence: You start doubting your abilities. A loss of confidence that leads you to live in constant fear of what everyone thinks, or leaves you believing you’ll never be good enough, is a warning sign that you’re in a toxic environment.
Shut-down Feelings: You might have trouble knowing or trusting what you’re feeling. You don’t feel safe expressing yourself and choose to hold feelings in — until they erupt.
Diminished Relationships: Do you spend a lot of time alone? Have you lost interest in friends and family? Slowly, you’ve found yourself consumed by work and too tired to maintain your relationships.
A toxic workplace hurts the employees, and it can be deadly for the business. Some of the signs are insufficient funding, people pushing their personal agendas in team meetings, unresolved emotional conflicts, and overall poor management. In a clinic with that type of culture, you will see:
- The business lose its good reputation,
- Employees performing poorly,
- An increase in sick days,
- An increase in disability claims, and
- High turnover.
Overcoming or leaving a toxic environment is definitely challenging, but it is possible. You CAN choose how you react to it. Next month, we’ll talk about how you know if you’re contributing to a toxic workplace and the steps you can take to heal.
This article is adapted from content in Shawn McVey’s presentation titled, “Take the Test: Are You the T in Toxic?” To schedule Shawn to give this presentation to your group or team, contact Cindy Oliphant at 888-759-7191 or by email.