A toxic work environment is horrible. Think about it: You spend about half of your waking hours at work. Doing that in a toxic workplace almost guarantees you’ll be miserable. How do you know your workplace is toxic? Here are a few signs that you can look for in the office. (We’ll go into other arenas tomorrow.)
1. The rules are inconsistent. If your boss lets Bryan do X but punishes Alex for X, that’s going to breed resentment and toxicity. If you’re the one being ruled to favorably? Know it won’t last.
2. Your boss keeps moving the goal posts. Did your boss promise you a promotion if you accomplished X, Y, and Z, but then at your review adds that you also need to accomplish A, B, C, and D? That’s shady, and if you’re not furious now, you will be soon. Get everything in writing, and talk to your colleagues: If no one is moving up, chances are no one ever will.
3. Your boss is unsupportive. If you need a mental health day, have the flu (more on that tomorrow) and need to stay home, or just need an ear after a rough week at the office doing difficult tasks, your boss should be responsive. If she isn’t, it’s going to be a tough road ahead.
4. Red flags start getting brighter. When you start a job, it’s easy to ignore red flags because you’re blinded by excitement and opportunity. When they start to get more visible, to the point that you can’t ignore them, that’s a red flag in itself.
5. Your coworkers are gossiping. Misery breeds more misery. The more time you and your office BFFs spend more time venting about your mistreatment, the worse the company’s bottom line will be—creating a toxic cycle that you may only be able to break by leaving.
6. There’s a lack of communication. If your higher-ups are playing a game of telephone to tell anyone anything, that’s a bad sign. If no one can speak to anyone directly, it’s not healthy.
7. The rules change. If your company let you do H, I, and J when you got hired, then renege on that a year later, beware. Something happened and they feel threatened.