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Petty Work Environments - How to Survive, Navigate and Avoid

Hi All!
I work in one, a rather large one. I’ve been in IT from top to bottom for over 35 years and I have NEVER encountered such an environment to survive. I’ve always been a Top Performer and Communicator, but in the environment I’m in now, those things don’t matter, accomplishments and experience as well… but, the petty-ness thrives in an IT department of around 200, that is top-heavy with Management (usually not career IT people, or only staffed by folks that have no other job experience except this environment for life. Really myopic to a fault and ego-driven. There you go, any comments or help? Thank you everyone!

I am so sorry to hear that @cgarduc. Words cannot describe how hard it is to try and survive in toxic work environments. You almost start to question if you are the problem because you have never experienced the things you have described. Don’t gaslight yourself and stick with the facts. Here are my recommendations:

  • Advocates - find where you have strong partners in the company and stay in constant contact with them. They can speak to your credibility and support you if needed.
  • Document, document, document - environments like this tend to be quite emotional and reactive. Facts are still relevant so make sure you keep record of everything you have accomplished.
  • Over communicate - it will seem really redundant to follow up after all of your meetings and conversations with email recaps but this will help avoid you being blamed as the cause of any communication issues.
  • Plan - decide what your boundaries are and when you will need to exit if the environment starts to become detrimental to you personally and professionally.

Make sure that you review any internal policies and procedures so you are covering all of your bases. Lastly, I’m sure your company has an internal compliant process that you can follow if it gets really bad.

The only other advice that I can give you is to please take care of yourself. Working in toxic work environments erodes people from the inside out. I have seen employees start out as enthusiastic and innovative and they slowly become shells of their former selves. It is imperative to have a plan and to find something that feeds your soul outside of that environment.


Thank you for your insights! Some good ideas there! BTW… Welcome to the Group!

Thank you!! I have found my kind of HR geeks online :grinning:


Anybody else have survival tips? :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi @cgarduc, sounds like you are in a very familiar environment to one I was in a couple of years ago and ultimately, the most healthy and progressive thing I could do was to leave. It was the best decision I made as I am now in a much better situation. It is very unlikely for company culture, performance framework or the company values to change significantly enough within a reasonable timeframe to make it an enjoyable workplace, and it sounds like it is impacting on your sense of purpose and achievement.
If you are in a position where it is not possible to leave just yet, consider the following:

  1. what are the things you can control and the things you cannot.
  2. Let go of those you cannot affect and focus on those you do have an impact upon.
  3. Seek your sense of achievement in your small wins - even if your manager/upline management do not.
  4. Chose your battles carefully - but do not back away from the right decision if it is important.
  5. Remember what your colleagues/management’s trigger points are: - fear of being found out as a fraud/failure - fear of losing their status or their job - fear of losing control. If you need to push the boundaries, then consider how you communicate this so it doesn’t trigger those fears and ensure they feel empowered rather than fearful.
  6. Believe in yourself. This may require some intentional pep-talking or positive affirmations. I list my achievements and how they added value to the organisation. This helped me keep confident while looking for my next role.
  7. Don’t let them defeat you into being the same as them. Keep out of any toxic discussions or gossip and don’t speak negatively about the workplace with anyone who may look to use that information. Keep it light and breezy.

I hope these pointers from my time working in a fear-based workplace assist you to navigate your own maze.

Good luck and I hope you find a better workplace soon

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