A company cannot tell if it has hired a bad seed until after the fact. Let’s face it, if it knew, the person would never have landed the job in the first place. Things could have been going well until a toxic employee is hired.
This person can cause lots of disruption and cause the loss of productivity and demoralise the spirit of co-workers. This employee must be dealt with, not necessarily by being dismissed unless there was an extreme situation that warranted it.
Let’s look at some signs of toxic employees and what needs to be done.
1. The Work Evader
In a team environment, everyone needs to pull their weight. This person is good at evading work and letting others work harder to compensate. When it’s time for those to be credited for their good work, this person somehow is back to take the credit.
2. The Complainer
Have you ever worked with someone where all they do is complain? They are normally the ones who have nothing to complain about yet they always do, while those who work hard and DO have legitimate reasons to complain never do because they are good workers who just get on with it. The complainer puts down the boss, the job, their co-workers, the pizza is soggy and anything else job-related. This negativity can get other workers down and a little upset.
Gossipers can’t be trusted. If they gossip about others, chances are, they are gossiping about you too, even though you appear to ‘get along’. By indulging in gossip, it’s a way to gain acceptance with others. People don’t like gossipers, but strangely, they like to hear what a gossip has to say. Gossips also tend to be climbers. They will do anything to get higher up and they will lie to make themselves look good.
4. The Intimidator
This person is nothing but a bully. This is the worst kind of co-worker to have. They are loud, negative and put others down. Other workers compete with each other to be in the bully’s good books in order to escape the intimidation.
All of the above tends to have a bad effect on co-workers and the workplace in general. Productivity can go down and there could be some angry and resentful employees who may not say anything, just to keep the peace. However, it should be dealt with because the business suffers. Here are some ways to deal with it.
5. Don’t Fire Them
Unless there is violence, theft, sexual harassment or something really extreme, do not fire the toxic employee (yet). It is a pretty drastic measure, one that could cause others to work in an environment filled with fear. There may also be legal ramifications, which you should clear up with an employment lawyer before you make any decision.
Instead of you talking to them, let them talk first. They will most likely start by talking about the others and blaming them. People who do things like this may not be aware of it. You can then let them know the situation in a way that doesn’t make them get defensive. This may be all that is needed.
7. Action Plan
You and the toxic employee can come up with an action plan. Let them be proactive as well; don’t just state everything. Together, decide what needs to stop and what needs to start.
8. Maintain & Follow-up
After a week or so, check the progress. Let them share what changes they’ve attempted, what they find challenging and help them head in the right direction.
Occasionally, you may have to let someone go, but hopefully, by working with them, the situation and the work environment can improve.