Toxic was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2018. If it is also the word that best describes your boss, it may be time to make a career change. Here are three signs you’re working for a toxic boss (and what to do about it).
If your boss encounters office problems with shouting and screaming, she’s a hothead. This type of behavior is difficult to deal with, but try not to meet aggression with aggression. That said, don’t become a doormat, either. It’s never okay for someone to scream at you — even if you screw up — and you do need to stick up for yourself.
If you’ve had a boss who was a screamer, you may prefer the second type of toxic leader – the invisible boss. If you rarely know where your boss is, find him difficult to reach, or unwilling to respond when there are issues, you have a case of the invisible boss. This may sound great – but keep in mind your boss has a significant influence on your career success. If he’s unwilling to advocate for you – or doesn’t even know what you do to begin with – your career will suffer.
The next type of toxic leader is the Ben Wyatt boss. If you don’t know Ben Wyatt, he’s a character from the popular show Parks and Rec, who had previously run for mayor as an 18-year-old and won the election. If your real-life boss is equally inexperienced and prone to making decisions more based on show than substance, you have an inexperienced boss on your hands. If your boss is willing, you can take this as an opportunity to work as a team to help your boss learn. Unfortunately, that’s an additional job you’re probably not getting paid for.
The thing about toxic bosses is they may be hard to describe – but you absolutely know it when you have one. In every case, you have three choices – stick it out, and try to use the opportunity to learn and grow. Next, you can contact HR if you have a boss whose toxicity is reaching past personality and into violations of company policy. Finally, you can cut and run. If you’ve given it your best effort and you and your boss simply cannot find a way to work together, it is okay to begin searching for new opportunities. Just be aware the grass is not always greener. Try to get a real feel for the workplace culture for any new job you pursue.