We spend the majority of our time and energy at our careers. Therefore, a really important question you need to ask yourself is, “is my workplace healthy for me?” Here are some ways to help you answer this question:
Is your workplace characterized by fear? Do you and your co-workers live in fear of making a mistake? or Does your work place see mistakes as an opportunity to grow and learn? Does it foster a sense of security? Where you can challenge yourself to grow and take risks? or Is it marked by anxiety; where you live in a state of fear that you will be reprimanded, ridiculed or fired for any misstep.
Workplaces that are covered with fear are missing the opportunity for growth, improvement and harmony. People need to feel safe, to be willing to take risks and think outside of the box. When we are in a state of fear then we are not willing to take risks; it’s unsafe.
Another consequence of a workplace cloaked in fear is that people are unwilling (because they are scared) to take responsibility. Employees feel unsafe to admit when they have made a mistake or things didn’t go as planned; no one wants to be accountable. To save themselves people blame others and “throwing others under the bus”. This is not a supportive environment instead it pits everyone against each other, as everyone is in fear/survival mode.
Let You Shine
Does your place of employment recognize your strengths, and let you shine those strengths! Are you empowered to be creative, to use your strengths, to try something new because you know you are good at it? When we are allowed to shine it benefits everyone. For example, if you are really good at writing reports are you given the opportunity to demonstrate a new format for yearly reports or is that “not part of your job description”. Do your co-workers and superiors recognize your strengths and foster your growth?
When we are allowed to shine we thrive. When we feel that we are respected, and our talents are being utilized we are more committed; we feel like we have purpose.
Focus on the Positive
Does your workplace focus on the negative or the positive? Yes, I understand things go badly, but do they focus on moving forward, or do they focus on the negative and keep you there. For example, when something goes wrong do they take a holistic view, or do they continue to focus on what went wrong rather than what needs to happen to improve? Is it more about reprimanding people and keeping them in line or is it about moving forward?
Even the overall feel of the place, are people more likely to speak negatively about the organization and coworkers or are they more likely to have positive things to say. Does the energy of the place feel heavy and dark or is it generally light and enjoyable?
Do you feel valued? Do others on your team make you feel valued no matter what your role is, from Executive Director/CEO, to the mai room or admin staff. All people on the team have value, and the whole organization would not work if everyone wasn’t doing their tasks. If people on the bottom of the totem pole are treated poorly because they are considered replaceable this helps to create the fear I already talked about. It also causes issues at the foundation of the organization. A strong foundation is the building block and if that is shaky because employees are not valued at this level then it will crumble.
Can you Communicate Honestly
Are you able to communicate honestly with others on your team? There is nothing worse than having to censor yourself because your honest communication is not welcome. Of course, we need to choose our words, and be professional, but if we are not able to be honest, this weighs on us. Lying takes a lot of energy and requires us to constantly be on guard. If we are not able to have honest communication in our workplaces it adds a lot of stress to us and the overall feeling of the organization.
There are always things that can improve, and if you feel that you can be honest and open about it then you are more invested and feel valued by the organization. Even tough conversations are easier when we can be honest!
We spend most of our time at work. Shouldn’t our workplaces be overall a positive experience for us? If you find when you are reading this that your workplace might be toxic for you, then you need to ask yourself ‘is this job more important than my well-being?’ You can imagine if you are feeling it is toxic then others are too, and you have the power to change that, even if that means you just change your own perceptions, perspectives and attitude!