Surviving a Toxic Organisation
Toxic Organisations impact the organisation's most valuable member, its employee. How can employees survive a toxic organisation and is it as simple as one would think? Probably not, however this post will look at the signs that an organisation is toxic and provide at least some hope for the affected employees.
Toxic organisations will display signs of aggression. There will be excessive negativity, infighting and even bullying. Perhaps even intimidation and threats.
Ethics and the Law
In toxic organisations, unethical behaviour becomes the norm and unlawful behaviour surfaces. Employees with strong ethical values will be weeded out and terminated.
The targeting of employees will occur. You're either too strong or too weak. Chances are, in a toxic culture, the norms become what would ordinarily be considered totally abhorrent and unacceptable behaviour. There will be plenty of gossip and innuendo increasing and the grapevine will wreak havoc and in all likelihood, decision-making will strangely occur from these communications.
The organisation begins to attack itself
In toxic organisations, the organisation attacks itself. As time goes by, employees receive permission to continue. Chances are, everyone knows the organisation is toxic, but because the organisation isn't learning, the attacks come from within. Normally attacks should come from outside the organisation, such as a new market entrant or a disruptor. The organisation has brought this upon itself.
Immoral behaviour and Abuse of power
Immoral behaviour and abuse of power will occur. It's the organisation's fault as due to their lack of sensible values, the employees learn and adjust. Some employees will develop a hidden disrespect for the organisation and some employees could even abuse company funds as a sign of deep distrust for the organisation.
If the Whistleblower decides to take on the organisation, they'd better be prepared for a battle. The organisation didn't get into this predicament by being cognisive of their internal environment. Denial and blame will occur. If the Whistleblower tries to blow from within, they will be silenced and perhaps demoted, ostracized or even terminated. Chances are, the system won't look at itself, it will blame you. It's your fault. If the Whistleblower decides to blow from outside the organisation, guess what... you're the problem.
Absenteeism, presenteeism and workplace stress
It's a given that absenteeism, presenteeism and stress will occur. Employee burnout and mental illness will be common, but perhaps given the volatile environment, employees will suffer from within.
How can employees survive a Toxic organisation?
Well, it's not actually easy, to be honest! Employees must somehow compose themselves in this time of destruction. Seek mental health advice. Talk to family. Weigh up your options and determine if it's worth staying or if it's worth putting up a fight. Put money in a kitty. Prepare your curriculum vitae. Protect yourself and your integrity.
Talk to a mentor, talk to a career counsellor, just talk. Exercise and burn off the stress. Eat healthy and get plenty of rest, you'll need to be in as best as possible condition to ward off the effects of these circumstances.
Whilst you may not be able to outwardly display your disgust, self-talk and honour should not be compromised and you might have to be a bystander, but if you can maintain your integrity then at least you know that you are not a part of the system, you are a by product.
The truth is, it's not easy. There's no magic pill.
But you can do it.
No matter what, you are loved... and you can survive this.
Image by Aleshyn Andrei