So when should you burn a bridge? Turns out – more often than you think.

You’ve probably heard the saying before. “Never burn a bridge”. It comes from a place of good, but holy shit – that advice is terrible. But let me explain.

The idea behind this statement is one I agree with. The root idea. For most, a career is a crucial part of life. Keeping, and nurturing connections is something you should be doing all the time. We know this. Unless you suck, you’ve probably received job opportunities from coworkers at other companies. And if you’re really good, hell, you’ve probably had that manager or lead who wants to take you with them wherever you go. And that’s a great thing. That’s job security. That’s an in-tact bridge!

Now what about when things go awry? What happens when an employer is toxic, and you never want to see them again. Hell, what do you do when you have a bridge burned from under you? This can happen a number of different ways. Maybe you took a job you liked that turned into one that you hated. Maybe the CEO of your small company is overbearing. Maybe they don’t understand what you do, and because of that – you end up with the shit end of the stick on every issue. Maybe the company leadership is steering their ship into the rocks, and everyone on board knows it. And now because of these actions, you have been ejected from the company – either by your own doing, or by the actions of other bad actors.

See: Toxic Bridges

The situation above is not only one that is detrimental to your own career progression, but also your mental health, your well being, and your ability to find future employment. And more importantly – all those good bridges you build in the past can be infected by these toxic bridges.

Chances are, if you’ve been at a toxic organization, you probably didn’t see the signs until it was too late. Hell, you may have even used your connections to bring in some new talent to help you out. Do you see where this is going? There is a time and a place to burn a bridge. Identifying those scenarios takes careful consideration, and torching the bridge behind you can be one of the most difficult things to do in your professional career.

So how do I know when a bridge is toxic?

I personally believe that when you know, you know. There are tons of lists all over that do a good job spelling this out. But hell, for the sake of a bulleted list, here are some good identifiers.

  • The company is constantly missing milestones and overworking employees.
  • Pay is late, or payroll issues are common.
  • You are genuinely not appreciated for the work you do.
  • Company management does not understand the work you do.
  • Company management does not take responsibility for mismanagement. (The excuse chain)
  • Consistent broken promises from direct supervisors or management.

These are signs of a struggling company, and particularly, signs of a company struggling with bad top-down leadership. This is not an organization you want to bring friends into, let alone be in yourself for too long.

Now there are always exceptions – and by no means am I saying when you find yourself at a company like this, that you should run for the hills. Quite the contrary. There are good people at every organization. And those people deserve other good people.

So at the end of the day, fuck the “never burn a bridge” mentality. If a bridge is harmful to your well being, and the well being of your good peers, burn the fucker down.

Or to sum this all up in one tidy little statement – Selectively build your bridges with good people. There’s your TL;DR, Reddit. ❤️

Have anything to say? Want to share your bridge burning story? Throw it in the comments below.

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