Do you have an exit strategy?
Toxic workplace – you know you are in a toxic workplace when you see the clear signs around you. Among these signs, you feel burnt out, have sleepless nights, and are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. With this in mind, you dread going to work because everyone has a bad attitude and your environment has become functionally unhealthy around you. This toxicity at work leads to unhappy workers not willing to create a cohesive culture where employees feel valued, empowered, recognized and rewarded (VERR) within the organization. Ultimately a toxic workplace leads to high turnover and an escape of good qualified talent.
According to a Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees, 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling sometimes burned out. That means about two-thirds of full-time workers experience on the job burnout. Burned-out employees were 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking for a different job. Even if they stay, they typically have 13% lower confidence and motivation in their job performance and are half as likely to discuss how to approach ultimate performance goals and milestones with their managers.
One of the most toxic environments of all is when you have a narcissistic, overbearing, militaristic, power hungry boss who only cares about his or her own career growth and treats everyone like dirt and without any respect. This type of boss surrounds him or herself with ‘yes’ people and isn’t interested in listening to your thoughts or ideas.
Your narcissistic boss most likely has an inflated sense of self-importance, doesn´t promote synergy, nor seeks first to understand than to be understood. If you’re not sure whether your boss embodies this type of toxicity, look for these symptoms: an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement. The American Psychological Association found that 75% of the workforce said their toxic bosses are the most stressful part of their jobs. And other studies showed that a toxic boss and unhealthy environment is the top reason why employees leave their jobs.
You will never win with a narcissistic individual nor will you ever change them. So, why is your job commitment keeping you in this or other toxic work situations even after your logic tells you to leave? Maybe, it’s because you don’t have an exit strategy or plan B.
Working in a toxic work environment causes a rapid decline in self-esteem brought about by a number of factors, the worst being dysfunctional leadership. It’s disheartening to watch people reach their breaking point and resigning from their well-paying jobs–not to mention leaving all their benefits behind – without having an exit strategy beforehand. The toxicity, stress, illness and mental anguish existing within the corporate culture of those companies make people finally realize that your mental stability isn’t worth any amount of money. That’s why good, highly talented, loyal employees leave toxic companies. Personally, my commitment and loyalty has kept me in places where logic dictated for me to get out and leave sooner. Know when it is the right time to exit!
Making a decision to leave is the hardest job challenge a loyal employee can make. Life teaches you a painful lesson, the kind you cannot learn from a textbook–a job does not define you. Remember too that if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room–find another room. You don’t belong there. When like-minded people get together, they get motivated by their encouragements and experiences. They don’t choke the life out of a good idea. Therefore, don’t wait until you are out of gas to make a decision to leave. Have an exit strategy because it is always easier to get another job if you are already working. Also, bear in mind that in most cases you won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits if you decide to quit your job. Unless you have prepared yourself financially for such an event, it’s best to plan your strategy before leaving.
Some pointers to consider:
- Update your resume, your profile on LinkedIn, and any other recruitment websites you may consider, and gather or refresh your business contact information. Doing this in advance gives you time to think, organize and prepare your strategy. If some of your demonstrated past work experience highlights your skills and qualifications make use of your background to help you in landing a job, copy your professional portfolio onto a memory stick. If you have letters of recommendations for work you have done for the company or a client, copy them onto the memory stick as well. It is extremely critical not to lose your documented professional background. These documents have to be in accordance with your company policies, no proprietary or confidential information to be copied or disclosed.
- If you haven’t done so already, start networking. However, don’t take out a billboard sign saying you are looking for a new job. That’s suicidal. Be professional about it and never discuss your plans with your co-workers. Navigate the web, work with recruiters, associations and look for jobs on important websites and related sources. Also, let family members and non-work friends know that you are looking for a job. Make sure they have a copy of your resume on hand. Check with your friends and investigate if their companies have an existing employee referral program.
- Be prepared for the interview process by researching interview tips, going to career fairs, and doing mock interviews with professional people you may know. Your local unemployment office also offers courses on how to search for a job and how to interview for one. You’d be surprised how many helpful resources they offer. Do your homework prior to going to an interview. Demonstrate a valid interest for the job while going through the job interview. Be prepared for the challenge of landing a job!
- If you must leave before having another job, consider taking a ‘bridge’ job — one that will hold you over until you find the job you like and really want. Bridge jobs can be temporary jobs that lead to permanent jobs later. They could also be jobs such as temporary assignments to keep busy, which will at least pay the bills while you look for long term work.
- Remember, you are your own best asset which possess great confidence. Never allow anyone to make you feel worthless, especially as you initiate the interview engagement process. You know you are talented and no one can take that away from you. Get your confidence back by reviewing some of your past work and accomplishments. Remember that your milestones will demonstrate your talent!
You were born for greatness, and you will survive this toxic job. Don´t settle for less! Look at it as a learning experience. Research and make a list of the companies you will be interviewing with to be sure the corporate culture is what you are looking for. Surround yourself with like-minded people and watch how you will soar. When people go low, you rise high! Keep a positive perspective with a great attitude to survive any challenge!
About the Author:
Benjamin Von Seeger is President and CEO of BVS Consulting. He is a well-known entrepreneur, visiting professor and speaks five languages. He graduated with degrees in Business Administration and International Relations from Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich Germany. He studied Advanced Management, and Business Administration and Management at Harvard School of Business. His Axiom Business Award winning book, The RiVal: Play the Game, Own the Hustle, Power in Competition, Longevity in Collaboration, draws on vast personal experience and proven philosophy to inspire a new generation of businesspeople and students. Visit his website: BenjaminVonSeeger.com and follow Ben on Twitter: @benvonseeger.