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Joan Lloyd's HR Words of Advice: The Toxic Workplace

Structure & Organization, interpersonal communications, Employee Satisfaction/Engagement, Conflict & Dispute Resolution, Internal Corporate Communications
Posted by Lloyd, Joan at Wednesday, 05/24/2006 9:35 am
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3.0 from 71 votes

Dear Joan: 
I am employed in a toxic workplace. Virtually everyone is in it for themselves, and there is a distinct separation between "management" and "workers." As such, workers come and go as they please, and abuse is rampant, everything from taking company cars home and using them for personal business, e.g. daily breakfasts with the spouse, to excessive "doctor" appointments to significantly-shorted workdays to doing the minimum work by screwing up enough times.

I happen to work next door to the worst offender, who does the latter two but also has, in the past, regularly interrupted me to discuss personal business even when my door is closed. This is exacerbated by his being paid significantly more, but with less complicated and lower volumes of work that's mostly not subject to stringent time deadlines as mine oft-times is.

Fortunately, my current supervisor got him to reduce that, but the co-workers' attitude and the lackadaisical workplace is dragging my productivity and work ethic downward. It's like swimming with an anchor tied to one's foot.

Meanwhile, management only bothers with staff when they need them for something, otherwise they're left alone. We have a "work plan," but no goals and no follow-through. Unfortunately, my number has been getting pulled more and more frequently, due in large part to my work being subject to more accountability; my neighbor's rarely is.

I'd like to get vested in the retirement plan-just over 2 years away-but this environment has been difficult for me to bear. On the bright side, this retirement plan is offered elsewhere, so I've regularly been checking for other places, as I've put in just over 2.5 years with this employer.

Are there any coping mechanisms that I can employ to help? Should I write something in my performance review comment to diplomatically explain that this environment is dragging me down? Thanks for your thoughts.


Why would you want to be vested in a retirement plan with a company that will probably not exist when you retire?

This company has such poor controls in place regarding employee accountability it can´t possibly be a market leader, or even productive enough to sustain itself in a competitive marketplace.

Trying to tell your employers that the environment is dragging you down will probably have the same affect as screaming into the wind. This management group has created this mess through pure neglect and it will take a new leader at the top to fix it...starting with cleaning house at the management level.

Wouldn´t you rather be working in a dynamic, competitive environment? What are you waiting for? You don´t belong there. Leave the slackers and go find a workplace that values your drive for results and work ethic. In a robust environment your career will thrive and your income will grow, along with your retirement nest egg.

Joan Lloyd is an executive coach, management consultant, facilitator and professional trainer/speaker.  Email your question to Joan at  Joan Lloyd & Associates, (800) 348-1944, Visit © Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.

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