I Survived A Toxic Manager & Toxic Workplace Environment

Toxic workplace environment toxic manager
Toxic workplace environment toxic manager

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My manager was a b*tch. She was a bonifide b*tch. And if this goes viral and she reads this, I hope she knows I’m talking about her. (Thanks EK for being the worst toxic manager I have ever encountered). The toxic workplace environment was hard enough but she made it unbearable.

We all have that one manager that we hate. The one that uses their position of power to serve themselves and abuse others. The one that uses emotional manipulation to guilt you into staying extra hours, often unpaid. The one that tries to screw you over financially and points fingers when things don’t go well. The one that manager that makes you question your commitment to your job and makes you want to quit with anxiety. I don’t know who put these people in their roles but, holy crap, the hiring process needs to get better.

I had just gotten into a position that I was really excited about when I met EK, she seemed friendly enough. She showed me how to do everything; put the bare minimum in training me but I was okay with that. After all, I didn’t want to be a burden, she was obviously very busy. I told myself that I could learn from my mistakes and I could learn quickly with very little instruction. Lesson learned, the first sign of a toxic workplace environment is an utter lack of training.

There were multiple red flags and looking back I realized what a dupe I was to believe her evil manipulations. In reality, I was between a rock and a hard place. A lot of stuff she did didn’t really make sense or feel fair but she was the only person who could show me the ropes. Even though she was only a year older than me, she had much more experience in the company and was well connected. Her brother and dad worked in other departments. EK always used her experience as a point of reference, “Trust me, I’ve been with this company for 10 years.” I mean, who can really argue with that logic? I was probably just really naive.

The toxic work environment started to show when she would hold these “meetings” five minute before the end of the workday. Looking back I really should have made a complaint at this point because these stupid were keeping me over 30-40 minutes and she wasn’t paying me overtime. I just felt sooo isolated. The director who hired me wasn’t investing anything into my training or checking in to see how I was doing. (Tells you a lot about this company, huh?). If I spoke out, who would listen?

I took on a lot of work beyond my scope because not doing so just made my job harder. Our receptionist isn’t trained? Well then, I’m fielding all the calls. Her paperwork isn’t closed out? Well then, her clients are going to be screaming at me on her days off when things don’t go their way. EK just liked to point fingers and not take responsibility. Apologies were not in her vocabulary. And with Upper Management not digging into their sites or taking a closer look, who was going to be the wiser? (The toxic workplace environment red flags were shining in neon lights).

She was the coldest woman I ever met. When she would get stressed she’d throws me under the bus and make sure I knew exactly how I was failing in my position. I could literally feel her satisfaction as I stuttered an apology and looked down at my desk feeling helpless and losing confidence in myself. Over time my work self-esteem just started slipping away. There were times she wouldn’t even bother to hide her nasty personality, her sneers at how incompetent I was still ring in my ears.

Why would I put up with that, why would I let someone disrespect me like that? Don’t I have any self-respect? How many times did I really think about storming out and throwing the towel in? So many times, but I worked too hard, got too far to let ONE person push me out. The truth is that my job wasn’t that bad. I’m paid well and reasonably. I’m doing something that I enjoy and am good at. The benefits and time off were good too. This was a GOOD JOB. And to quit now would be going back to the drawing board, career-wise. So I stayed and took it. I made sure to document the issues I had with her and keep her on edge. Over time, she was still a bitch, but a more cautious bitch. And eventually she became more and more jaded with her own position and the toxic workplace environment, so she found another opportunity and left.

It was such a breath of fresh air to be away from the negativity EK brought to the office.

It wasn’t until she finally left that I realized how toxic of a manager she was. I had always struggled to get deals through but apparently she had the system rigged. Which was surprising because for the past year and a half I was led to believe I just wasn’t trying hard enough. You know when someone points out some obscure yet plausible reason why something is happening, but in reality the two are unrelated? That’s exactly how she explained things to me. My toxic manager had played the system so that she would get the bulk of the commissions. All her arbitrary rules, on what could be accepted plus her rules on which clients were hers, favored her heavily. She knew this full and well but still took the digs at me for being low performing compared to her. She went as far as to complain about me to upper management, saying, “I can’t focus on my own role because Alex is too underperforming. I need to make all the deals.” She suggested adding another agent, so that I would compete with them and then they could drop the lowest performing team member.

You would think women would lift other women up in the workplace, seeing how we’re underrepresented and all. So it really surprised me to realize that EK didn’t care to mentor me or help me grow. She was numero uno and that was all that mattered.

For those dealing with a toxic manager and toxic workplace environment here are a few thoughts of advice:

1. Pick your battles but speak up! If something doesn’t seem right, say so. Plain and clear. Let the other person be defensive and show how they are not screwing you over.

2. Break down your interactions and minimize them. I only had to work with EK 3 times a week and sometimes it would be 2 or 1 times due to holidays and PTO. In the larger scheme of things we only worked together 135 days out of the year. Our overall interaction in a day might add up to an hour. Dealing with her was manageable when I thought of it that way.

3. Document Everything: most jobs will want to “build a case” against you if they want to fire you. Documenting everything can save your ass especially in a company that likes to point fingers. You can build a case too on how you were a good and reliable employee and how your employee committed wrongful termination.

4. Think about the bigger picture. Your manager is one person in a small part of your life. She or you may leave for a better opportunity. It’s hard to think about it that way when week after week, someone is using their position of authority to get ahead of you. But life has taught me that challenges are temporary.

5. Things are always changing: My toxic manager left! If she didn’t leave, I probably would have found my way out. The corporate environment is a living breathing organism, constantly changing.

My toxic manager was horrible and I can only wish most of my readers don’t have to work in that kind of environment.  But at the end of the day we can’t always choose who we work with.  Stay strong and stay motivated!

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