Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Review: 'Rising Above a Toxic Workplace' by Gary Chapman

Secure, lucrative, and fulfilling jobs are hard to find. If someone is lucky enough to be gainfully employed, but is unfortunate enough to have a boss who undermines him, what is he to do? The trio of Gary Chapman, Paul White, and Harold Myra address such questions in "Rising above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment." The authors offer "encouragement and strategies for survival" when "it's tough just going to work every day" for a disparaging supervisor whose negative attitude is harming his employees' physical and emotional well-being.

This slim volume (less than two hundred pages) is nicely laid out, with easy-to-read fonts, pithy quotations pulled out of the text for emphasis, and separate sections on "Survival Strategies," "Leadership Lessons," and "Questions for Discussion." Toxic bosses come in many varieties: They may lack integrity, have unrealistic expectations, fail to communicate clearly, and rarely, if ever, express their appreciation for a job well done. As a result, the office, factory, or school becomes a place of cynicism, discontent, and fury instead of productivity, satisfaction, and tranquility.

"Rising above a Toxic Workplace" is filled with real-life anecdotes about men and women whose bosses treat them unfairly; it will resonate with victims of employers who are insecure, arrogant, and/or mean-spirited. Administrators are not always capable of handling the responsibilities that go with their positions, and they may take out their frustrations on those too vulnerable to fight back. Chapman, White, and Myra provide good advice geared towards helping each person make the crucial decision: Should I stay or go? If I stay, how do I remain sane? If I go, will I get another job that pays well?

Two caveats. For some reason, Chapman and his fellow writers do not mention sexual harassment, an important source of distress in the workplace. In addition, non-believers may balk at the book's frequent references to religion. In general, however, "Rising above a Toxic Workplace" is lucid, practical, and informative. It provides valuable insights that could help demoralized workers who are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Managers would profit from reading it as well, for tips on how they can become more empathetic and effective leaders.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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