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  • Writer's picturePeter Yawitz

Should I quit my toxic workplace?

Dear Someone Else’s Dad,

I just attended my first senior staff meeting where the CEO spoke about the firm’s culture, which he defined as integrity, collaboration, and excellence. Not terribly innovative, but those words resonate with me.

The problem is that I don’t see integrity, collaboration, and excellence around me. People take shortcuts, steal ideas from one another (and from competitors), do sloppy work, and constantly undermine one another. If I were an observer, I’d say that the culture is bilking, blaming and backstabbing.

I don’t think I’m overly idealistic, but ever since the CEO’s speech, I’ve become disillusioned and not proud of where I work. I’m wondering whether I should post something about my feelings, speak to someone internally, or just quit (which is what I’m leaning toward).


Culture Clash

Dear Culture Clash,

I’m going to break your question down to several points.

1. The size of your organization. If you’re in a large company, your manager might have his own culture of bilking, blaming and backstabbing. But maybe you can find a role in another team in the firm whose manager lives the true culture. If you do want to stay in your team, say something to an HR manager if any specific behaviors are damaging to individuals or to the firm. In a smaller organization—say fewer than 20 people—it may be harder to find a position to escape toxic culture because there are fewer places to move.

2. Where you are in your career. If you haven’t yet proven yourself at your level you may not want to jump ship until you can show that you’ve achieved some successes. If you’re lower on the totem poll and your skill set is transferable, you’re not taking on as much risk to your career if you move on.

3. Your personal situation. Many think quitting will solve their problems, and sometimes it will. But don’t be rash. Think about where and how you live, how much money you’ve saved, and what stresses in your life are manageable and which are not. Finally, write down several ways your job could be better.

After doing running through your scenarios, you’ll know what to do.

Take care,

Someone Else’s Dad

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