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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management, American Public University
Imagine that you have completed your training and education and you’re ready for your first day at a new job. As you go around your department to meet your new colleagues, you sense that two employees have some nonverbal communication that screams at you, “Red light alert!”
You are now part of their team and believe that everything is going well. That is, until something happens three months later.
Your supervisor calls you into the office and informs you that you are being placed on probation because some team members have reported that you are not carrying your weight. When you inquire about specific examples to validate that accusation, your manager pulls out “evidence” supplied by those two employees that your instinct warned you about on your first day.
“Stay focused instead of getting offended and off track by others.” – John Maxwell
Toxic Work Environments Often Create Victims and Career Derailment
If this scenario has happened to you, you are not alone. All too often, hard-working employees fall victim to insecure and hateful coworkers in toxic work environments. A career derailment can follow. Unfortunately, toxic cultures support this type of hateful behavior.
What should you do in this situation to avoid a career derailment? Here are five strategies to consider:
- Stay focused on your original plan for your career. Use the information to refocus on counteracting negativity that is directed your way.
- Remain calm and do not allow coworkers to bully you into coming out of character. Remain true to yourself and behave accordingly.
- Act professionally and cordially to your coworkers and choose the battles that make sense to fight. Do not burn yourself out by trying to fight all of them. While you will lose some battles, your goal should be to win the war.
- Document any negative activity in the form of a journal. Periodically check to see if there are patterns and trends. Develop strategies on how to stay one step ahead of your adversaries.
- As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” You have to maintain a standard and protect your reputation at all cost. There is no reason to tarnish your image by going down to your coworkers’ level.
Always maintain your integrity in the workplace and continue your journey as you head toward your dream job, career or company. Ignore external negativity as you nurture internal awakening.
Also, be mindful that you will constantly run into individuals who are not your fans. Remember that those opinions do not determine your destiny. Take control, be proactive and continue to walk the path that has been set before you.
About the Author
Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.
Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a systematic approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.
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