Toxic Work Environment? How To Manage Your Departure.


You want to protect your interests in leaving a toxic workplace. It is stressful enough to have to work there, you don’t need the additional discomfort of negativity focused at you because you choose to leave your employer.

Most employers are fair and supportive of their people. Some employers use different, manipulative tactics to manage their staff. Their management style is confrontative and intimidating.

Some employers take it personally when you resign, and if your work life wasn’t difficult enough, they then decide to make your time remaining less than pleasant to ‘reward’ you for your disloyalty. This can take the form of subtle or pointed remarks, meetings to pressure you into telling them where you are going to work next, and having colleagues do the same.

Here’s where the need for patience and perseverance comes in.

You don’t want to give any reason to your soon-to-be ex-employer to mishandle an employment reference, final paycheque or vacation pay, or any other process required to separate cleanly from the company.

You return all company property, surrender all papers of strategic importance, and bring your files up to date, helping your colleagues, eliminating any justification for meetings where your integrity, competence, or honesty are called into question. Your departure does create a problem that your boss has to solve however in finding your replacement. That frustration may surface in these types of meetings.

If you get an exit interview with HR, restrain the urge to lay blame and point fingers. Instead, describe in neutral, constructive terms what steps the company can take to improve how it serves its customers and supports its employees.

Pleasant manners succeed even with difficult people.

Your peace of mind is more important, so disengaging emotionally from whatever is being said, keeping your eye on the goal of the better life that awaits you at your new employer, and letting go of your grievances is in your best interests.

“Endurance is patience concentrated” – Thomas Carlyle


Bounce Back When You Don’t Get The Job.

Version 2

You could see yourself working there; the people were friendly, the company is going places, and the job suited your experience and expectations. Then, you were informed that the job was offered to someone else. This wasn’t what you were expecting. Disappointment and wondering start to dominate your thinking.

Where did you go wrong?

Rejection is tough to take for even the most resilient people. You begin second-guessing yourself. Was it something I said, or something I did or didn’t do?

Reflecting on your personal presentation, you come to the conclusion that there was nothing that you said or did that would disqualify you, and you did your best.

Let it go. Don’t dwell on what might have been. As in sports, focus on the next shot, the next serve.

There are any number of reasons that you didn’t get the job. Many of them have nothing to do with you.

Some of the more common reasons that the job goes to someone else:

  • Someone was more qualified or experienced
  • Another person had stronger personal chemistry with the hiring manager
  • A last minute candidate was introduced externally by a third party, or by an internal employee
  • After several meetings, it was decided to raise or lower the bar of experience or qualifications
  • The hiring manager’s boss decided on modifying the duties or qualifications
  • The salary range offered was adjusted for economic reasons or a corporate change in plans

When you are between jobs, every interview and job opportunity that comes your way is not necessarily the right one for you. Several doors may close before the right one opens.

Remind yourself that you have the strengths, skills, and experience that are a good fit in the right company. Just because XYZ company wasn’t the right opportunity doesn’t mean that the pathway to your own progress is blocked.

You have a lot to offer, persevere in your efforts and they are bound to be successful.

Thomas Edison said when inventing the light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Continue believing in yourself and your worth because you know you have a lot to contribute to your next employer. The right employer is bound to recognize that, sooner or later.

Recognize Manipulators In The Workplace.

conceptual image of the corporate manipulation

Manipulators know that many people are susceptible to flattery. They understand that there’s a universal human need for acceptance and approval.

They actively offer flattery and acceptance to people whom they perceive as being needy or unsure of themselves. They do the same thing with people who are outwardly strong and capable, but in a different way.

With people who are needy and unsure of themselves, they offer moral encouragement and support, to gain trust.

With people who are strong and capable, they express their admiration, and how impressed they are with the target’s accomplishments. They will tell you what they think you want to hear, or need to hear.

They want something from you, and they go to great lengths to obtain what they want.

They work at creating wedges between people to further their objectives.

They will practice subtle forms of character assassination or gossip, to plant seeds of doubt. They will often drop casual hints or remarks about people that they’re trying to supplant in your life. This causes you to question your established relationships and their foundations.

The difference between an honest approach to understanding another person and a dishonest approach is the motive behind it.

An honest person seeks to understand you because they value you as a person. A manipulative person seeks to understand you to determine your weaknesses.

When they find that chink in your armour, then they work themselves into your confidence and trust.

Once a manipulator has gained your confidence and trust, they begin to put into motion their agenda. You’re used as a tool to further their interests, sometimes as an accomplice.

Courses of action are suggested to you, which seem to hold a benefit for you, but in reality only serve to advance the manipulator’s objectives.

You’re asked to perform a task, or say something to somebody, acting as a mouthpiece for the user, who stays safely in the background, manipulating the action behind the scenes.

Even the most honest and upstanding people can be fooled.

Trust your intuition; if it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.

“One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.” – Machiavelli

Changing Jobs? Look Before You Leap.

Gold Fish Jumping to Empty Bowl

It’s tempting to jump to a new opportunity, just make sure you are landing in the right place.

What are some issues to explore when deciding on moving from one job to another?


  • How frequently have they advertised and hired for the position you are considering?
  • What are their thoughts about the person leaving/who left the position?
  • How is their stock doing if they are publicly traded?
  • Have they had any downsizing in key divisions, recently?
  • Have they had frequent management changes at the top tier?
  • Are they targets for takeover, or have they been in the news about being purchased?
  • Have they been purchased by a firm outside of their industry sector?
  • Have they lost major clients in the past year?


  • Are they involved in class-action lawsuits, or high profile individual lawsuits?
  • In discussions with them, what corporate image do they identify strongly with?
  • How are their business practices viewed within their industry sector?
  • What do websites like have in the way of reviews/opinions about the company?


  • How compatible are your skills and experience to the demands of the job?
  • What is the chemistry like between you and your future manager?
  • When you ask them what they look for in people they hire, do you identify with their preferences?
  • Are the time demands of the work compatible with your personal commitments?


  • Is the company growing, and do they discuss future plans for the company’s growth?
  • Have they expanded recently in terms of products or services offered, or into new trade regions?
  • Where and how have they grown in the last two years?
  • What do financial publications say about their numbers, results or projections?


  • What do they say when you ask how long employees typically stay in this job?
  • What do they look at when deciding on future advancement?
  • How are salary increases decided on, and are they merit or performance based?
  • Do they support reimbursement for pursuing relevant industry educations courses?


  • How do they describe their company culture and the people who fit within it?
  • What are their values, community involvement, and causes they support, publicly?
  • What do your interviewers say when you ask them why they like to work there?
  • Are they a collaborative company culture, with a strong team spirit?
  • Is the business philosophy task and process oriented, or is there a strong focus on client service?

A lot of your research can be done through various trade publications that you can find through our 2015 Resources page:

Attitudes in an interview influence a hiring decision.

Hiring managers are alert to signs that a potential employee may harbour inappropriate attitudes. They look for signals indicating a temperament, personality or expectations that are misaligned with the position’s challenges.

What are some of the attitudes that raise red flags in an interview?

  • Entitlement

Entitled candidates project the expectation that employers will accede to their demands and that they can check off a wish list of employment conditions that they have. The reality is that most hiring situations involve negotiating in a spirit of goodwill and compromise.

  • Unrealistic salary expectations

Making quantum leaps in salary from job to job is perceived by most employers as unrealistic. When they see candidates asking for significantly higher than average salary increases, they begin reconsidering. This impression is reinforced if the candidate’s overall experience and knowledge base is out of line with their expectations.

  • Lack of enthusiasm and interest

Employers want to hire motivated people and they stay away from candidates who don’t display interest in the opportunity under discussion. People who show interest, ask relevant questions, show willingness to take on more responsibility, and who have a team player’s mentality will move forward.

  • Inflexibility or lack of cooperation

Inflexibility is broadcast when candidates balk at considering overtime, or extending themselves beyond the core job description. An expressed willingness to do whatever is required to benefit the team or the department is always a positive point to bring up in an interview.

  • Negative comments about past employers

Speaking negatively about past employers always raises red flags. The interview starts wondering about the candidate’s manageability, and whether they will create dissension in the department. If you have negative feelings, make a decision to let go of them, even if they are justified. This is in your best interests.

Positive attitudes make the human connection stronger.

Is The Glass Half-Full, Or Half-Empty?


This is just one optimist’s views. We all see life differently.

See this site for some humor on the subject:

What floats your boat?

Optimists experience the same disappointments and setbacks that pessimists do, but they view the events themselves with a fundamental difference: they believe that regardless of appearances, circumstances and conditions happen to learn and grow stronger from.

An optimist inspires you to hope, dream, and to plan for your goals; the pessimist speaks in terms of fear, doubt, and obstructions.

An optimist strives for achievement; a pessimist hopes to avoid disappointment and failure.

An optimist knows that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way towards achieving their goals, and accepts the sacrifices necessary to achieve them, willingly; the pessimist is angry at obstacles, fears obstructions, and prefers to conserve energy.

Trust opens more doors of experience, creativity, and growth, whereas fear limits, restricts, and obstructs free progress.

Trust opens you up to the world and its wonders; fear isolates and defines rigid boundaries of experience.

Is the glass half-full, or half-empty?

Build Trust As A New Supervisor.

New partner

When people work with each other, you sometimes get a clash of agendas and different motivations which affect the team’s synergy and output. If not handled with tact and diplomacy, positions and points of view become entrenched and people construct walls and defenses.

An inexperienced supervisor in this situation often overreacts and tries to force change and this can backfire.

Trying to influence someone who doesn’t see your point and refuses to accept your reasoning is like trying to make a stream flow uphill. The stronger their defensive posture is, and resistance to change becomes, the more you exhaust yourself through frustration and resentment when repeated attempts to push change fail.

This has the effect of draining your energy, narrowing your range of tolerance, and prompting emotional reactions to every wrong move that the person makes.

Some points to consider when you are faced with this scenario:

Remove your emotions from the equation and look at the problem strategically by looking beyond surface appearances.

  • Why is this person uncooperative?
  • What is making them resentful or defensive?
  • What are they possibly afraid of?

With a new supervisor, established employees may feel the need to test their boundaries, to see how strong or weak their new leader is. More experienced staff members who have seen supervisors come and go may test, probe or challenge to see if the new supervisor deserves their respect.

Finding common ground

  • Solicit their input as to how things could be done better or more productively within the bounds of established corporate guidelines.
  • Ask for their ideas about how you can help make their job easier and what tools they need.
  • Establish the human connection through asking them about their own plans for career growth and what they see as the next step forward.
  • Bring a specific operational problem to their attention and ask them how they would solve it.

Engaging these employees and showing that you value their experience, input and ideas is one way to gain willing cooperation. People have opinions and frequently have great ideas to contribute. Their former supervisor may have had a more autocratic leadership style, and as a consequence, they learned to avoid the risk of saying what they thought.

A significant part of the learning curve of new supervisors and managers is practicing the skills of active listening, soliciting feedback and seeking first to understand, then to be understood. This builds trust, and with trust more open communication becomes possible.

“I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.” – Abraham Lincoln


Why Do I Want This Career Opportunity?

A balanced sense of ambition and realism helps you achieve the goals you set out for yourself. Those who allow ambition to be their master rather than mastering their ambition often make short-sighted decisions where desire gets in the way of objectivity. Cutting corners to experience rapid career progress exposes you to demands and expectations from others where you need to have the grounding, skills and experience to be successful and meet established performance standards.

Some questions to ask yourself:

▪ Is it recognition, respect, increased prestige, greater challenge, more money?
▪ Have I carefully assessed what demands will be placed on me and do I possess the skills and traits that will make me successful?
▪ Am I moving because I am frustrated and want to challenge myself, or do I feel that I am not acknowledged and my contribution has not been recognized?
▪ Do I have the experience and knowledge required for this job?
▪ How objective am I in evaluating my strengths and weaknesses?
▪ Am I being impatient and have I learned all I can in my present situation?
▪ Am I moving because others – family members or peers have said that I should and I feel the pressure from them?

Pride, ego and the perception that others are getting ahead faster than you can influence your decision making.

Take the time to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses and review the pros and cons of accepting a given opportunity. Objectively take inventory of your knowledge, skills and experience, and make the effort to determine from the employer what will be expected of you.

The decision you make will have far-reaching consequences and you owe it to yourself to decide wisely based on facts and a full assessment of the risks and rewards.

Avoid Office Politics In A New Employer’s Culture.

As recruiters, we often witness the damage that occurs when office politics creates problems for individuals, departments and companies. Political activities encourage hypocrisy, secrecy, deal making, rumors, power brokers, self-interests, image-building, self-promotion, and cliques — not a recipe for effective team work. For people starting in a new position, unfamiliar with the corporate culture and wanting to blend in with the new team, it can be helpful to remember the following points:

  • Concentrate on building relationships, not on taking sides
  • Avoid participating in gossip
  • Find common ground with others, offering assistance
  • Don’t discuss personal problems
  • Selectively self-disclose
  • Stay professional at all times
  • Create win/win solutions.
  • Keep the employer’s perspective in mind
  • Be pleasant, laugh and smile
  • Be natural

Purpose-Driven People Seek Employers That Reflect Their Aspirations.

In recent years, many companies have become more community-minded, concerned with
preserving the environment through reducing their carbon footprint, serving higher goals
beyond the main one of profitability.

People who want to work in companies where they feel their contributions are meaningful are attracted to firms that have corporate missions focused on giving back to their community and society. Idealistic attitudes are a driving force, with the newer generation considering socially responsible employers as attractive places to work and see their careers progress.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

What Is Important To You?

  • I want more personal recognition for the contributions I make.
  • I want to work with people who identify with a shared goal or cause.
  • I want the opportunity to stretch myself with new challenges.
  • I want work that allows me more time with my family.
  • I want to earn a higher income doing more interesting work.
  • I want to work for someone that I can respect and look up to.

What does your intuition tell you about what you need to be happy?
Does the opportunity exist to express your values, principles and aspirations in your work?

One of the key indicators for feeling successful is believing that your work is meaningful. Joining with other like-minded people raises the synergy of the group.

What sort of corporate culture is a natural fit for you?