Canadian Shipper


Coaching Corner

Toxic workplace environment?
Lack of communication?
You are not alone.

As a reminder, please submit your questions in confidence to Well, let’s get started. I received an email that was particularly urgent and of a recurring concern within organizations.

Q | I am very concerned
about my job, there is all
this talk that it may be closing down. I am totally stressed
out and I don’t know what to believe any more. What should
I do ? should I call it quits or see it through ? DD

Dear DD, thank you. A couple of things to consider:
Facts vs. Rumors: I must agree with you that communication – especially with today’s ease of technology – sadly is not something organizations often excel at or have a policy on. That being said, best advice I can give is not to listen to rumors.
There are two options: First, a good start would be to schedule a meeting with a superior or HR manager if there is one and mention your concerns. They will be as candid as they can with you about what is fact and true, within their knowledge and authority to disclose. Another is to look for the actions within the business operations. Is it business as usual? Is there continued planning of events and operations into the future? Are there any objective signs that something is new or different?
Be a change agent: There is much fulfillment in being part of the solution to a problem. If you have identified an area of deficiency within your organization such as communications, why not volunteer to act as a communications agent or liaison? You could do it formally if you have the background or training (if you do not have the training that leads me to my next point) or informally via a social committee comprised of volunteers. Let’s face it, rumors and other types of disruptive behaviours seldom help an organization achieve their goals. Volunteering for such a task shows initiative as well as good corporate citizenship and is a great opportunity to collaborate in ways or with others. You may not have an opportunity to do so otherwise.
Health and safety also includes mental health. Most organizations have a Health and Safety Committee, which is comprised of volunteers and management representatives. Either joining them or reaching out to them and expressing the concern and sharing scientific proof that shows the effects of stress in the workplace is a great way to champion a healthier workplace not just for yourself but for all your colleagues.
How marketable are you? When organizations have to restructure or downsize, key marketable actively engaged employees are not the first ones to go. Do a skills inventory. Is your training up to date not just for the job you are currently performing but also for lateral or upward positions? If it is then great; some personal branding via sharing your knowledge through professional mediums such as LinkedIn for example, or your own professional blog will help you get noticed without immediately considering changing jobs. If it is not, then I suggest taking the initiative and getting your skills upgraded and/or developing new ones. On-line courses, webinars or after hours continued education are fairly easy to accommodate and find time for in a busy schedule.
Financial Reality: Most of us work to earn a living and all of us have financial responsibilities. If you cannot afford any period of unemployment, it is a good idea if your work environment is insecure or you are noticing visible signs that it is not business as usual to do a scan to see what is offered in the market and what qualifications are required to be competitive. This should, by the way, be a regular exercise in managing your career.
Working in an uncertain environment can be a very stressful experience. You are not alone. Safety is one of the greatest needs we have as humans.
Many people do not like when I offer the following: You are in charge of your own life, which also means creating a safe and empowered work environment for yourself. By making sure that you engage in a positive, proactive and timely manner at your existing workplace you can be a positive change agent and set a wonderful example for your peers as well as demonstrate great leadership no matter what your title is.
Your employer and yourself have made great investment in each other, try to be the change you wish to see and know you have the power to change the world…..starting with your world.

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