Are you dreading work this week? Do you want to know why?

September 1, 2014 10:18 pm Published by

The Labor Day weekend is past. Summer is officially over. And what do you have to look forward to? A week back at work, followed by another week at work, and another. Sound exciting? Or depressing?

If you are like a majority of people in the U.S and Canada, you are not looking forward to work this week — and at least half of you are actually dreading returning to work.

A critical question is: Do you know why? If you don’t, read on.

A second key question is: Do you know how bad your workplace really is?Is it “normally stressful”, like everyone else’s job? Or is it really “pretty bad” (worse than most)? Or is it really, really bad — to the point that it would be considered toxic?

Let’s answer the second question first. Go to this link, and take the quiz, How Toxic is Your Workplace? to get some input on how bad your workplace is in comparison to others.

Why You Dread Going to Work — Some Possibilities

In our book, Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, we surveyed hundreds of employees (and leaders) and heard their stories about unhealthy workplaces. We found some themes.

Characteristics of Toxic Workplaces

We found three themes that seem to make workplaces unhealthy:

1. Sick Systems. Some organizations are not structured for health — they have no documented ways of doing things (or people don’t do tasks they way they are supposed to), or there is really bad communication between departments and from management. Chaos, confusion and incompetence reign.

2. Toxic Leaders. Some leaders are beyond incompetent — they are harmful to others. They are focused on themselves. They manipulate and abuse those around them. And they seem to be able (for a while, at least) to “look good”. But they actually damage the organization and are dangerous to be around.

3. Dysfunctional Colleagues. Blaming, making excuses and creating conflict are these individuals core talents. They know how to “stir things up” and create a crisis when none really exists. The bad part is — they can make those they work with look bad, too.

What You Can Do

First, check to make sure your expectations are realistic. Yes, you’ve heard it before — that “work is work”. But you’ve also heard messages that “work should be enjoyable”; “you shouldn’t hate your job”; “work is about more than making money”. The problem is: all of these statements are true. But the challenge is that they aren’t true all of the time. Sometimes, work is just hard work and it isn’t fun. Sometimes work is about making money (when you have bills to pay and not much money in the bank.) The goal is to be moving toward a job, or a career, that you enjoy, find fulfilling, and can support yourself — but you may not be there yet.

Next, figure out what about your workplace you dislike. Is it your boss? Your colleagues? That you are bored and not challenged?

Finally, determine what you can do to make your week better (and it is NOT trying to get someone else to change what they are doing.) It may be setting some boundaries with others; it may involve working on having a more positive attitude and interactions with others. Or it may be you need to figure out if it is time to create a plan for leaving.

If you haven’t yet, order a copy of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace to help you figure it out. Or go to this page for more information.

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September 1, 2014 10:18 pm

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