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Reader Q&A: “I have a toxic boss, and a workplace that’s making me miserable. What do I do?”

By 08/02/2021September 17th, 2021I Need A New Job
dealing with a toxic boss

I want to share a trend I saw in the beginning months of the pandemic, which is really relevant today too.

I noticed two common troubles among job-seekers and our Work Bigger readers: many people were experiencing stressful layoffs and furloughs while many others, who were still working, felt more dissatisfied than ever in their current roles.

The first group was overwhelmed by strain while also having to, essentially, put their dreams on hold for right now.

​​The second group was searching for purpose and looking to get clarity on how to make their next move.

Do you feel like you fall into either of these groups right now? ​

Staying stuck and feeling unfulfilled is not your only option, whether you’re in one of these two groups or you’re feeling inspired to think about what could be next in your career journey.

Today I want to talk about what to do when you’re ready to move on from a toxic workplace or pivot into a new career. We have a concern from Work Bigger reader, Pat, who writes:

I have a toxic boss and a workplace that’s making me miserable. I need to make a change but I’ve had no luck, so far. I also don’t know what I want to do this late in my career and I’m afraid to make a change during the pandemic.

Thanks for sharing that, Pat. You’re not alone, so I wanted to take this time to offer you some extra support.

I know it can feel exhilarating to quit a job. But there are many things to consider before you do.

If you’re in a toxic work situation, or Pat’s situation resonates with you because you’re looking for a work-change amid the pandemic, here is what I recommend:

Look for places where you can take control.

Communication is essential to a successful work environment but bringing up issues to your boss can be intimidating, no matter their management style. 

One Work Bigger Community member who struggled with a difficult boss at a job she loves approached the situation by finding allies at her company. Having people to prepare talking points with, in a way that made her feel good, was a safe way to tackle the issue of a troublesome boss.

Put pen to paper and figure out what it is you need from your boss to make you feel more at ease at work. 

If you can’t speak to your boss directly, seek out a colleague or an HR representative who can bridge the gap between you.

Start brainstorming.

Who, in or outside of your organization, can you talk to about your next move? 

Carve out a few minutes to make a list of who in your network can help you think about what your future could look like.

Breakdown the skills you use on a daily basis into their most general terms. 

It’s easy to forget what you’re good at when you’re applying those things to tasks only specific to your current role. If you’re great with numbers or communication, consider what other industries need people like you and write down the ones that speak to you most.

Go forward with next steps.

I’ve seen people freeze up after being asked what they want to do next. It’s an exciting, dreamy question that also requires a lot of patience and planning in execution. That can feel especially stressful when you’re stuck in a toxic work environment.

Start by asking yourself what you’re curious about. Is there an industry or role you’ve always been interested in?

From there, figure out what questions you have about those industries or roles. Get clear on your knowledge gaps.

Then, make a list of places and people to reach out to. Who can you speak with to learn more?

Identify one or two people who can help you fill in your knowledge gaps. And as always, I recommend finding a community where you have shared values. It makes building connections and seeking support significantly easier. 

These small steps can lead to big progress. Breaking your goal down into small, easily digestible chunks can help you tackle it without getting too overwhelmed.

Now I want to hear from you. What steps have you taken to plan for your future? Have you ever stood up and addressed a conflict at your company?

Work Bigger Team

Author Work Bigger Team

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