Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
Roberta Matuson's Blog

Are Your Toxic Employees Poisoning the Workplace?

Are Your Employees Stressing You Out?

Toxic employees

These are those employees with a “bad attitude.” They are negative people and are never satisfied, no matter what you do on their behalf. These are the people who spread gloom and resentment, which makes everyone around them feel icky. And who wants to work in an icky place? So we see turnover…now if only these people would leave!!!

Here’s another problem with toxic employees. They are infectious and can bring down an entire department or business with one breadth.

So how do you deal with a toxic employee?

In a perfect world, you’d never hire one. But we all know that people put their best foot forward when interviewing.

If you catch the toxicity early, then you have a chance of saving the employee. The problem is, most managers avoid conflict. The moment they smell trouble, they turn the other way.

You may not believe this, but most toxic employees don’t wake up one morning and decide they are going to make your life and everyone around them miserable. Something usually triggers their behavior. Perhaps their annual review is two years late or they were promised your job, only no one ever told you that. If you can find the root cause of the dissention, then you have a fighting chance of turning this situation around.

See if you can remember a time when the employee was actually quite pleasant. When did you notice a change? If you can identify when you first noticed a change in behavior, then you can have a more targeted conversation.

Here are some tips on how to deal with a toxic employee:

  1. Deal head on with the situation. Believe me when I tell you that it’s not going to get better.
  2. Resist the temptation to tell them they have a “bad attitude” as that is merely your opinion and will only add fuel to the fire.
  3. Instead, look for observable behavior. What specifically is this employee doing that is not working for you? Are they speaking negatively about the company in front of customers? How is this impacting the business? Much more tangible than that bad attitude stuff.

I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to this topic in my book, Suddenly in Charge, which is available for download this month for $1.99 on Amazon.

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