Dealing With A Toxic Work Culture: An Interview with David.

By Victoria Oladipo

David talked about how the toxic culture at his former place of work affected his mental health. I reached out for an interview to get him to share about it with us. I hope his story helps us to learn how to navigate work in a toxic workplace.

I’m Adeyemi David .O, a music PR consultant, writer and journalist.

How did you get your last job?

I was a PgD student (I don’t think I want to mention the school) in 2019 and I was trying out what we were taught in class and I showed it to one of my lecturers. He liked it and when there was a job opening at a startup PR agency, he asked me to go for the interview, and I got the job based on his referral.

How did you realise your last job was toxic?

Different things didn’t add up. I felt used. It gave me more tasks to do by the day and for 9 months; the salary remained the same even though they promised to review it in six months.
I was robbed on my way to work in January and all I got was sorry. No compensation, no days off.
The team lead is one hell of a manipulative and cocky person. He never relays our complaints and pains to the management, he just says we’re ok and fine.
We worked sleepless nights on strategies for the brands we worked on, about 13 of them, but those strategies didn’t go beyond presentation. No execution, nothing. And this happens, every time. Mine is even worse because they employed me as a writer. He added photography (I organize photoshoots with clients) and copywriting, which wasn’t my core. Every day, we had something to change and tweak (which is our job, anyway), but they never got executed.
Salaries were delayed for almost two months and each time we complained of not having fare to resume, they will send me N1,000 to come to the office. It got so bad that I slept in the office every working day for four months and I was suffering and smiling.
When I sent in my resignation, my manipulative team lead (who knew the company wasn’t buoyant) questioned me and affirmed that I was going to give up the salary for that month, knowing my financial status. I struggled to stay for another month (one month notice policy) and finally left.
During the financial downturn of the company, guess who the chairman got a car for? Yes, our team lead lol.
Oh, and all of us that started working there in September 2020, only our team lead is left.

To be honest, I felt betrayed by the trust I gave my team lead. I felt I wasn’t good enough. I was the least paid and had the second most tasking jobs to do. I felt I was being managed. Hard times.

When did you realise you needed to leave?

The boldest step I’ve taken so far in my life was to think ‘guy, you won’t die if you leave here’ and that was all I needed to do.

How long did it take?

Two weeks, I think.

How did it affect how you work now?

Oh well! I vowed never to seek a job with a Nigerian employer for a long time, basically to heal from all 5 terrible experiences I’ve had working with Nigerian employers. This is the second worst.

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