WORKPLACE SUCCESS / 30 July 2019How to Deal with a Toxic Work Environment
We were at a café, and we had just sat down at a table to eat breakfast. After making some small talk, the conversation died, and suddenly there was a painfully long moment of awkward silence...
Let me pause there for a second to give you some context. This was at my previous job. I was working at a big global consulting firm, and I, along with a handful of other new hires, had been invited to breakfast with the U.S. West Region lead of operations.
This was the big boss. The head honcho.
Naturally, we were nervous. We tried not to show it, but it was obvious. We all wanted to make a good impression, and yet, everyone was too scared to ask him to ask him any questions.
So, finally, after what felt like an eternity of blank stares, I decided to step up to the plate and ask the question that was on everyone’s mind. I turned to the head honcho, and with as much confidence as I could muster, I began.
Me: “So… since most of us are still pretty new here, do you have any advice for us?”
Head Honcho: “Great question! I have lots of advice for you guys, but the most important advice I can give you is to always have a good attitude, no matter what. Even when you’re tired. Even when you’ve had a long day. Even when you don’t feel like it. Your attitude is contagious, so always be enthusiastic about your work because it affects everyone around you. Especially if you want to be a leader, you have to have a good attitude.”
At least, he said something like that. I don’t remember exactly what his words were, it was something along those lines, but that message has stuck with me ever since.
I know it can sound cliché to talk about the importance of having a good attitude, but clichés are clichés for a reason.
I mean, just think about it. Have you ever been stuck working with someone on a group project who had a bad attitude? I’m sure you have. We all have. How much does it suck to be working with someone is not a good team player? It sucks A LOT, right? If you had the choice, you’d probably never choose to work with that person again.
At the end of the day, no matter how smart you are or even if you know how to code python, if you don’t have a good attitude, no one will want to work with you. When you’re applying for a job, yes, they’re going to look at your skill sets first and foremost. If you don’t have the skills, they’re not even going to consider you in the first place. But, just because you have the skills, doesn’t mean you’re going to get the job. Or, if you get the job, it doesn’t mean you are going to fit within the company culture. Here are some main reasons people may struggle with fitting in at work, and having a good attitude is essential to getting through them all.
When someone is deciding if they want to hire you or not, a big part of their decision is going to be based on their answer to this question:
“Can I really see myself spending 8+ hours a day with this person, every day?”
They may not be consciously thinking about it, but it’s a question that they are trying are trying to answer from the moment they first meet you. If you have a bad attitude, no one is ever going to want to work with you. Here are some things hiring managers and recruiters look for when they are hiring for a cultural fit.
This doesn’t mean you have to be skipping around everywhere you go chanting positive mantras, but, just try your best to be the kind of person you would want to be around. Be open-minded, be supportive, be helpful, be respectful, and be a team player.
Developing your technical skills is still, and always will be, extremely important (and we can help with that), but without the right attitude, I promise you will have a very hard time creating a successful and fulfilling career for yourself.