How To Recognize A Working Environment?

Many people online want to know how to recognize a toxic work environment before applying for a job. Or they want to know if the are working in a toxic work environment like I did until I left the corporate rat race in 2011. Here are the 7 elements of the organizational design of a toxic work environment in a toxic company.

Toxic Work Environment Profile

Toxic Culture:

  • Fear-based: Employees are afraid to make mistakes, speak up, or ask questions.
  • Uncollaborative: Competition between managers and employees is cutthroat, and information is hoarded.
  • High-pressure: Workloads are unrealistic, and deadlines are constantly looming.
  • Gossip-driven: Rumors and negativity spread quickly, eroding trust.


  • Boss-Centric: Everyone works for the boss and important ‘internal customers’ instead of for external customers.
  • Hierarchical: Power is concentrated at the top, and decision-making is slow.
  • Micromanaging: Little autonomy or trust is given to employees.
  • Lack of transparency: Employees are kept in the dark about decisions and company direction.
  • Hybrid working and working at home : Working at home online and remotely is sometimes admitted including working in teams but under strict conditions:
The New Normal Economy - Hybrid Working And Remote Working For Managers and Employees by Tony de Bree

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Hybrid Working & Working At Home For Managers And Employees


Core Goals & Values:

  • Short-term profits at all costs: Employee well-being and long-term sustainability are sacrificed.
  • Values are performative: They are listed on the website but not reflected in daily practice.
  • Focus on individual accomplishment over teamwork: Collaboration is discouraged and not rewarded.

People & Skills:

  • Toxic Leadership: A toxic leader in the workplace is authoritarian, a bully, blame-oriented, and lacking in emotional intelligence.
  • Employees: People are often suffering from a burn out, disengaged, and looking for new opportunities.
  • Skills: Focus on technical skills over communication, collaboration, teamwork and problem-solving.

Business Processes:

  • Cost Reduction: Focus is on cost-reduction in the business processes in the company.
  • Inefficient: Redundant tasks and poor communication lead to wasted time and resources.
  • Siloed: People in departments don’t work together effectively, leading to duplication of effort.
  • Reactive: There’s a lack of planning, exoernal alignmen and a constant firefighting mentality.

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Business Strategy:

  • Industry Think: Continued search for an “attractive industry”. Wanting to “beat the competition”, to gain ‘market share’ in “red oceans” instead of in digital blue oceans and other sacred cows in business.
  • Short-sighted: Focuses on quick financial wins rather than long-term sustainability.
  • Little innovation: Resistance to new ideas and a fear of taking risks.
  • Unclear direction: Employees are unsure of the company’s goals and priorities and of senior management.


  • Accountability Systems: Focus on punishing mistakes rather than learning from them.
  • Data/Information Systems: Outdated or poorly integrated, hindering decision-making.
  • Feedback Systems: One-way communication; little opportunity for employees to provide feedback.
  • Recognition Systems: Rewards are based on individual performance, not teamwork.
  • Learning & Development: Focusing on standard on traditional diploma’s and certificates of traditonal business schools and universities and other traditional institutions of higher education. Focusing on up-skilling and re-skiling in AI in the interest of the company. And not in the interest of the individual employee.
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Reach out

Do you want to avoid working in a toxic company with toxic leaders or survive, Leaving The Corporate Rat Race ? Or do you want to learn the right soft- and hard skills to survive the great AI-layoff and thrive in the AI-powered economy? Avoiding sacred cows in management?

Then contact us today for a free online intake session with free work-advice and free learning advice. Email your mobile number and the link to the website of your company using this form. Then we immediately will contact you to make an appointment for an online intake interview.

Kind regards,
Tony de Bree

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