5 Steps On How To Handle A Toxic Employee
I believe all toxic relationships are unpleasant and harmful, but in business, they are absolutely lethal. A person with a negative mindset, who is constantly complaining, blaming others for bad results, judging, bringing irrelevant details into question and manipulating your feelings can have a profound impact on everyone in your company. Nagging culture can spread like cancer, uncontrollably and with major negative impact on everyone. This toxic behavior spreads even faster if such person is an unofficial opinion maker in your company.
How does a toxic employee behave? Such person is judgemental, disrespectful towards other team members, complaining all the time, overopinionated, overreacting on any new project, gossiping, always criticizing everything, intentionally undermining every decision made by other team workers or even you.
Not only toxic relationships directly affect productivity, results, and general success of your company, such poisonous behavior affects your customers as well. If negativism, hostility, and lack of communication are present at your workplace, your customers will experience it also.
How to handle a toxic person?
- Express them that their behavior is not acceptable and explain how it is harmful to the organization. As a manager, dig deeper to find out what is causing such behavior. Maybe your employee is dealing with bad family situations, some other personal problem. Sometimes people are also unaware of their actions and how their behavior affects others, but often, they are intentionally undermining the system, creating chaos and bullying others. When talking to such employee, it is important to manage your emotions and stay calm. Show them respect and do not be judgemental. Be open when communicating and solution-oriented. Also, have in mind that you can not help someone who does not see an issue with their behavior and their actions and refuses to change.
- Define acceptable behavior. Conduct private meeting with such person and under no condition discuss this in front of other co-workers or even bring this issue at a general meeting. Show them compassion and offer your help. If they are willing to accept it, the process of positive transformation will begin.
- Figure out how to work together. Ask them to take responsibility for their actions and involve them to co-create an action plan to change their problematic behavior.
- Monitor their behavior. Set a timeframe for when the change should be reached and monitor results.
- If they don’t change even after you have warned them multiple times, then you need to do the radical step of firing them. You might find this unethical or even cruel, but you have shown your compassion by alerting them about their destructive behaviors. At the end of the day, you need to take care of your business and other It is unhealthy for the rest of the team to be surrounded by a toxic person as their mindset influences everything and will deteriorate organizational culture of your company.
How to prevent a creation of a toxic workplace in the future?
The best strategy to avoid having a toxic employee is not to hire such person in the first place. Unfortunately, it is hard to spot the beginning of toxic behaviors before it is too late since such individuals are often more productive than others. When you notice a toxic pattern, it is very important to address it immediately instead of waiting to be solved on its own.
Also, as a manager/leader, you have a crucial role in creating and preventing a toxic work environment. This is a bold statement, but you have to acknowledge your responsibility for the given situation too. You may have unconsciously allowed such behavior to occur at some point. Overstressing every task, generating constant pressure over delivering tasks, micromanaging every step, and putting everything under emergency situation – these are all factors that, if being used over a longer period of time, have a highly negative effect on employees and can lead to the creation of a toxic workplace.
This does not mean you should stop challenging and pressuring your team to achieve deadlines. Instead, just rethink if there is anything about your actions that might contribute to the creation of a toxic environment and how you can change that.
Also, have in mind that communication plays a fundamental has a major role in every company. When communication on all levels is broken, this can slowly cause general negativity, constant complaining, and negativism in your team.
Nurture clear communication between management and employees, within departments as well as between them. Moreover be clear, open-minded, define your company core values and be a role model for your employees.
What is your experience with toxic employees? How did you address their behavior?