Recently I gave a talk about Leading Change for Organizational Change at a Nonprofit Conference and I was reminded that regardless of industry, we all struggle with how to properly identify a toxic work environment, how to detoxify it (if you can) and how to graciously leave. Emphasis on the last point as in many articles I read, experiences I have had personally or in my 24 years of working with people who create such environments, it is rare we get a strategy on how to leave.

In Daniel Bortz article, How toxic is your workplace? he is on spot with the signs:

  1. You are chronically stressed out.
  2. You are being overworked.
  3. You are being bullied.
  4. You’re a victim – or contributor – to office gossip.
  5. Your boss is a hothead.

Of course, your options are to confront the person one-on one, confront with a team and/or plan your exit. However, depending on your level of experience with such crucial conversations, financial circumstances and personal issues of what others may think may get in the way of what is the biggest obstacle – yourself.

In my book, Jumping the Queue: Achieving Great Things Before You’re Ready, we tackle this issue in the context of self-care, your value system and priorities. So, for those who are beginning this journey of understanding of self-awareness, let me be brief:

  1. Give yourself permission to let go of people, places and things that are toxic.
  2. Do not waste any time worrying about the perception of others as they are not living your life.
  3. It is okay to leave, and you will find another opportunity. Let me say this again, it is okay to leave, and you will find another opportunity. This is where many people doubt their self-worth and if I could go back and tell my 20 something self it would be that life is way too short and opportunities are too plenty to be in a space that creates this type of stress.
  4. Be gracious with your exit while having enough respect for yourself and for others to know that your character is your greatest asset.
  5. Know that although it may take time, toxic people and places will eventually be brought to light – have patience.

Share your stories with me at jumpingtheq.org and detoxify today!

Michelle A. Turman, author of Jumping the Queue: Achieving Great Things Before You’re Ready (www.jumpingtheq.org), is the president of Catalyst Consulting Services (www.catalyst.org) whose mission is to facilitate positive change in the areas of executive searches, organizational management, and fundraising. With more than 23 years of nonprofit experience, Turman has been responsible for increasing the impact and best practices of nonprofit organizations she serves and has raised over $60 million through her professional and personal philanthropic efforts.