Recently I came across an interesting article written by Marilee B. Sprenger called How to deal with Toxic Employees. It went into depth on what a ‘Toxic Employee’ looks like, what they do, and what you should do in response. Before I give my take on this article, here’s a short summary of what Sprenger said…
Original Author’s View
- A toxic employee engages in “gossip, unconstructive criticism, drama, bitterness, constant complaining, or blaming others”
- This can often result in (business -wide) “lower productivity, lower emotional intelligence, lack of enthusiasm, personal agendas, or loss of key employees”
Possible causes of “toxicity” include:
- Not understanding the company’s vision
- Having become disconnected from the purpose of the business
- An unfulfilled need to connect with others
- Non-existent emotional intelligence skills
- Problems at home
- Feeling underappreciated
To remove “toxic behaviour”
- Open lines of communication with the employee i.e. understand what’s going in their life, find out what they feel is expected of them, and reiterate your expectations
- Clarify and emphasise your vision. Show them where they fit into your vision and your mission
- Meet with team/departments each day to review the business vision
- Listen for cues which suggest employees (toxic and nontoxic) don’t know where they fit in. Conduct individual meetings to remedy.
The Business Coach’s View
Warning: the view point below is straight to the point.
As the business owner, the leader, you have the final say over what is allowed to happen in your business. You influence culture. You influence people. You are the gatekeeper. And you are responsible for building team. If then, you one day discover the elephant in the room (the ‘toxic’ employee and their motivators), you were the one who allowed it be there in the first place and therefore the one who MUST deal with it.
While Sprenger did a wonderful job in outlining the problems and ways in which to deal with difficult employees, I want to raise one problem as you think about the information she provided. And it’s this… KNOWLEDGE ALONE IS NEVER ENOUGH.
Without ‘action’ knowledge is useless. It will not motivate you towards your goals, but only inform you of how far you’ve still got to go. To give a real life example, an elite tennis player like Roger Federer knows how to play tennis (his 16 Grand Slam wins attest to this), but without something or someone holding him accountable to his goals he would never be able play like he does. And in Roger’s case, like many business owners, he decided on a coach.
The business owner / coach relationship is a perfect match for long-term, bankable success (read what my coaching clients say). It’s free to talk with a business coach about your goals and receive confidential, proven strategies for your next step. And as for long-term results, you can make up your mind after your introductory, no obligation chat.