Throughout our lives we make a series of career decisions, some good and some bad. There are times when we think the grass is greener on the other side only to find out the unfortunate truth that it isn’t. Everyone, at some point in their career, has had a job (or jobs) they dread. The likely causes range from not being passionate about the work to a difficult work environment. How we handle these situations shines a light on our character and our ability to persevere.
For a short period of time, I worked for a boss that micromanaged everyone, lacked moral character, pivoted daily, and frequently demoralized his employees. Naturally, it created an unproductive and hostile work environment. Each Monday morning, I knew that the first 30 minutes to an hour of my day would be spent being yelled at and berated. Then the verbal attacks transitioned to the next undeserving employee. By 10 a.m. all the motivation that came with the fresh start of the week had disappeared. Sheer panic and chaos set in as we began tackling the latest fire drill. The effect of this weekly tirade had debilitated the team and generally, took us until Wednesday before we finally rebounded and were able to start producing work again.
There are countless stories similar to mine and thousands of other horror stories about inept managers and toxic companies (read more here). Instead of dwelling on the bad, flip your mentality. The first step is to recognize all that you learned from the experience and work to do the exact opposite when you are in a leadership position. Below are the key takeaways I learned from poor work environments.
- Create Trust and Foster Teamwork
- Know What Motivates Your Employees
- Take the High Road
- Be Available to Your Employees
- Actively Listen
- Be Aware of Your Biases and Heuristics
- Allow Your Team to Do the Work You Hired Them To Do
- Learn to Let Go of What You Can’t Control and Focus on What You Can
- Make Notes About What You Wouldn’t Do as a Manager
- Develop and Empower Others
- Observe the Behavior of Others
- Look for the Good in Others
- Be Compassionate
- Practice the Golden Rule
I am grateful for each and every bad experience I have encountered. These situations reinforced who I am, allowed me to exercise my leadership skills, taught me how not behave, and now helps me recognize positive situations and practice gratitude for the good.
Share what you’ve learned from a bad work experience in the comments below. If you are just coming out of a bad work environment or are still processing the experience, read these tips to help you get your confidence back.