Daily Prompt: Toxic

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

7 Signs That You Work In A Toxic Environment

A job I once had provided an unwanted look into what a toxic work environment can be. It frustrated me everyday, and quickly turned into something I loathed thinking about, even during my off time. The signs of a toxic environment are not always easily identifiable, but once you are made aware of what they look like, recognizing them is simple. What you do after that is up to you.

  1. You have a boss, not a leader.

A real leader is willing to put in work alongside their employees, not crack a whip from the safety of an office. They don’t point fingers and search for someone to blame if something goes wrong either. Instead, an effective leader will work with the team or individual to improve their understanding and hopefully their results.

2. Management is feared, not respected.

Ruling through fear only works for someone who doesn’t understand what respect is or how it works. However, most adults in the workforce fully understand that by showing respect, they get it in return. This creates a positive cycle of respect being shown to everyone else that they may encounter throughout the day. As a result of a positive and respectful work environment, there will inevitably be an increase in productivity and morale.

3. Only failures are recognized, not successes.

Every manager is different. The good ones will point out successes, either through email, a private conversation, or in front of colleagues and co-workers. They will also point out failures, but usually behind closed doors, and will be willing to spend time to help you correct the issue. A bad manager tends to only dwell on failures, call you out like a child in front of everyone, and can even stoop so low as to continually bring up old failures, even in unrelated situations. These bad managers will almost never give you recognition or praise for your success.

4. Absentee ownership.

This is more important to the health of the company than the individual employee. Absentee ownership is probably the worst offence an entrepreneur can can commit. If you’re 65 years old and have a well established team, perhaps you can take more time off, but if your company is struggling, it, as well as the employees, can benefit by having you spend more time there, not less.

5. Unhealthy competition.

Sales competitions can be a great motivator, helping to drive in some extra revenue, especially in the slow times when employees can tend to get complacent. But overlapping of territories or customers can result in animosity between employees, and a disdain for the manager who implemented the contest. Hopefully, any form of competition is well thought out ahead of time, and outlined in full detail with the employees before it begins.

6. Drugs and alcohol at work.

This is pretty straightforward. Drugs and alcohol consumed at work is dangerous to everyone, and a sign of a serious addiction. If anyone is at the point that they require drugs and/or alcohol to get through the day, serious psychological help should be acquired.

7. Nepotism.

In my experience, when I worked for family members, I was always expected to output more effort and productivity than other employees. It taught me that regardless of how I got my job, I had to work to keep it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Too often, family members are hired, put in a few years of actual work, then coast for the rest of their career. Ultimately, they manufacture a sense of entitlement, which leads to an abuse of power, unprofessional actions, and a distrust between the employees and employer.

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Know Your Guide

When visiting a new province, state, country, or an unfamiliar body of water it is best to head out with a guide, at least for your first trip. Most beginners or non-anglers would believe that any guide service in a particular body of water will get you on some fish, maybe even that trophy you’ve been looking for. But any avid angler that has chartered a guide, especially a one that isn’t great, will tell you to do your research.

Recently, I took a trip to Fort Myers, Florida to visit my parents who have a small condo on a golf course. The bass fishing in the ponds around the course is good, but I had grown a little tired of fishing the same old spots. My brother-in-law, who also happened to be there at the same time, suggested that we go goliath grouper fishing. We had seen the videos online, which were absolutely insane, and decided without doing research on the guide or experiences had by others, to book a trip. He was charging $800USD for a 4-hour trip. I thought the price was a little steep, but he was supposedly the best.

We showed up to the marina about 15 minutes early and proceeded to wait. The guide showed up 20 minutes late, and made some excuses for his tardiness. It wasn’t a big deal to us as long as he gave us back the time on the end of the trip. However, to our disappointment, the story got worse.

He took us to the bridge pilings where the GG’s shelter themselves from the sun. He instructed me to grab a jack – a small but powerful fish – out of the bait well so that he could hook it up. I assumed, as I began to open the lid, that there would be at least a dozen or so in order for us to have enough bait to last the entire trip. Man was I wrong. He had one. Yes, only one baitfish for us to use on these monster fish. I grabbed the jack by the tail, pulled it out of the water and handed it to the guide. He hooked it up, then handed me the rod. He then verbally instructed me on how to lower the fish into the right area, and right away I got a bite. This is when things started to go really sour. Myself being a bass angler felt the bite and tried to set the hook. The GG ripped the jack from the hooks and I was left with no bait. The guide decided that now was the time to tell me that I was supposed to reel down on the fish, which was no help now that we were out of bait. He also had the audacity to ask if I had ever seen his videos on YouTube, hinting that I was supposed to learn everything about GG fishing from some low budget videos of him basically screaming like a banshee.

With no bait left, much to our dismay, we were now paying to do his job, which is preparing for a fishing trip. So he threw out a large bait net and dragged in a bunch of small bait fish, dumped them in the bait well and started up the motor so that we could head over to another area in order to catch more jacks to use as GG bait. Three hours later, we had two jacks in the boat and less than a half hour left in the trip. With the ride back, which he counted as time on the water, we were done for the day.

I have since been informed that this is not a unique experience, which did very little to calm me. I was angry because I had overpaid for jack and snook fishing which basically set up the guide with bait for his next trip, was yelled at for not being able to read his mind, and all the while had to listen to delusional stories of greatness by a guy who had just ripped us off.

I can’t stress enough, that should you use a guide service, do your research before you book anything. There are review websites and social media outlets that are littered with customer experiences. You could even call around the area to the marinas or bait shops, which usually know a number of guides. While they may not throw one of their own under the bus, they can steer you in the right direction.

Fishing you the best of luck!

The Ultimate Tourist Trap

As a family, one of our favourite places to go on vacations was Cancun, Mexico, which we visited four times. I have been back twice since that last family vacation and has it ever changed.

The first time we went to Cancun was over New Year’s week in 1996/97. I was 14 years old and it was my first time to an all-inclusive resort. I remember that I only left the resort one night with it was my oldest sister, who was 18, and a group of people around her age that she had met earlier that week. We jumped on a bus packed shoulder to shoulder, and headed toward the club district with our “travellers” (drinks for the bus ride).

The bar we went to that night was Dady Rock; a pretty well known place in the heart of the club district. I could barely move through the sea of tourists. This was a time when the only locals in the bars were the staff. We had an amazing night, some drinks and some laughs and headed back to the hotel around three or four A.M. This was my first time really partying and I loved it.

Over the next four years, we went back three more times and the partying just got more wild each time. Cancun was a safe, exciting place for tourists to just let go.

Fast forward to my most recent visit in 2011, which was a sales incentive trip, consisting of approximately 30 people. Only a couple of us had been to Cancun before and knew what we were in for. On my prior trip, I had noticed some shady police activity, and questionable practices of the staff in the clubs but shrugged it off. This trip was to be a major eye opener.

The first night that we went out it was very apparent how the area had changed. While walking from the bus stop to the club, we noticed a group of seemingly very unsuspicious young tourists handcuffed in the back of a police pickup truck. My co-worker and I were offered drugs and prostitutes more than a dozen times in the three-minute walk and it didn’t end there.

Once in the club, the most dangerous thing you could do was go to the bathroom. That’s right. Each time I went, a guy at the door would rudely cut me off. He would ask me if I wanted to buy cocaine, and each time I said “NO.” He would then follow me into the bathroom and offer it again while standing beside me as I did my business. Once again, I would dismiss his offer.

After a couple of hours of that garbage we decided to leave. We walked back to our hotel, this time making sure not to look anyone in the eye. During that walk, we began to put the pieces together about how Cancun works these days, recalling horror stories that we had heard from friends, and through our own observations.

We came up with how we believe the trap works.

Everyone knows that the Cartels run Mexico and that many of the police are on their payroll. But the intricacies are quite clever.

Bouncers let in drug dealers to attempt to sell you the drugs. If a dealer is successful, he’ll give you space to think that you’ve gotten away with it. The bouncers are then tipped off by the dealers and bust you. You have two options at this point; leave with, or without the drugs. If you leave without the drugs, they go back to the dealers and they repeat the cycle and split the cash. Should you be able to leave with the drugs, chances are, police will stop you once you exit the building. The police will then confiscate the drugs, and what they do with them at this point is anyone’s guess. However, this should be the last of your worries. At this point you once again have two options; give up whatever amount of money they are extorting from you, or go for a ride to the police station, where you’ll still have to pay them. This happens once they are done with their strip search in a room full of other police officers and whomever they decide to invite in. You will leave the station feeling degraded and extremely embarrassed, which is something you should never experience when away on vacation.

I have since been asked by some friends to go back to Cancun, and my answer to them was, “I hear Jamaica and Cuba are both nice this time of year.”