An environment conducive to well-being and productivity is frequently reported as lacking in the workplace. Many people report working in places in which they disengage, and for a number of reasons. They don’t feel supported by superiors and/or peers, their ideas are not included, or they are given little ability to make decisions. Bullying, threatening and purposive marginalization is unfortunately also not uncommon. Creating strategies to cope can help you survive a toxic environment. Leading change in such toxic environments is yet at another level where you seek to influence a more positive workplace. Five quotes can help you think about how you might lead in a toxic environment for your greater impact, productivity, well-being, and happiness.
Hard work pays off in how you feel when you achieve your goals. Stay focused on your work. People who are in the habit of causing chaos and divisions and looking for ways to undermine others’ work relish in your inability to stay focused on work that matters to you. Show that you value your time and you will stick to spending this precious resource on getting your tasks done despite the actions of others. If you can shift your focus away from destructive actions and keep focused on the work that matters to you, you will give yourself a better chance at finding fulfillment and creating what you want to see despite the toxicity.
By focusing on your work does not mean that you deny the situation. Change takes time. If a workplace’s culture is one that is authoritarian, for example, it will take time to change that culture. If trust is an issue, as much as you might wish that everyone was trusting and encouraging, that will also take time to transform. Changing a company or workplace culture can take months, often years, even with the right leadership.
Change takes resiliency, adaptability and starting from the right starting point. What many leaders still grapple with is the understanding that change becomes even harder work when you keep focusing on the wrong areas. Change comes from you first. Changing our perceptions, views, understanding of the problem and especially peeling back the layers of our own bias is the first step to change. Change from ‘self’ is the hard work that must be done.
The truth is change isn’t just hard, it’s harder when the odds are stacked against you. Working with hundreds of activists and leaders, I get to really know how some fail and some succeed despite having the bad hand of cards dealt to them. I am not asking that you look past how bad things are. If you are wise and want success, you will create an impeccable mapping of the situation within a strategic plan for change.
To go from surviving to thriving you will need to chart out how to move forward. This must include doing what is priority, and what is priority isn’t simply the tasks of your work. It comes back to ‘self’. As basic as this might sound, it’s critical that you are well. By working night and day at your tasks you are not going to make headway for long. By making sure that you are well, healthy, emotionally OK, energized and supported – by others – you have a chance to effectively tackle what’s possible. What’s necessary is taking care of you.
You can influence change and with the right strategy create massive shifts in the workplace or virtually any situation. However, toxic environments can certainly take a toll on your well-being and ability to continue to work at creating those changes. In your strategic plan, at what point will you evaluate how far you have come and the changes you have influenced? What will be the indicators of change? What must need to shift by when for you to have evaluated it is worth doing what you are doing?