How to Deal With a Toxic Employee in the Workplace
No matter how thorough your company’s interviewing process, there are some candidates who put their best foot forward only to show their true colors and toxic nature few months into the job. Before outright firing this individual, learn how to recognize the signs of a toxic employee and how to effectively deal with him or her.
Toxic employees often aren’t very difficult to identify; they spread and stir up office gossip, they bully and intimidate other employees and they seem to drain the energy of those around them. Sometimes an employee might exhibit toxic traits but is fantastic at her or his job and you would still hate to lose them. No matter the type of toxic employee, how do you deal with this individual?
No matter how frustrating a toxic employee can be, you should never give him or her ammo or strengthen their desire to cause discord in the workplace. Rather than sinking to their level and potentially boosting a toxic employee’s effect on others, counter their harmful comments and outlook with positivity to drown them out. Taking the high road might offer the person a different perspective on the matter and make her or him less willing to speak up with negativity.
Get to the Core of the Matter
Rather than ignore a toxic employee (nobody could blame you for wanting to do so!) it’s better to sit down with the individual to see what might be going on in his or her life that’s causing such behavior. Remember this person is a human being and that there are a number of factors that shape behavior. You might even learn that this horrible behavior stems from an issue within your company rather than within the person. No matter what the reason might be, it’s something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Let Them Know
There’s a chance that your toxic employee simply does not know she or he is displaying toxic behavior; that just might be how that person acts and feels there’s nothing wrong with such actions. Before resorting to anything drastic, sit the person down and let him or her know the behavior is negatively impacting the workplace. Be sure you have concrete examples of such harmful actions. Additionally, offer solutions and examples of the type of behavior you’d like to see exemplified. It does little good to bring a problem to the table without proposing solutions.
Give Them Stakes
Some employees need a fire lit under them before they take action and get serious about making a change at work. Destructive employees might need to know what they stand to lose if they continue with their behavior before they make a shift. Is the person up for a bonus she or he might lose? Would you be willing to make the employee work at the office rather than from home like she or he prefers? Whatever the stakes, make them something the individual seems to value.
Know That You Might Not Be Able to Get Through to This Person
Try as you might, there are some harmful employees who simply will not change their ways no matter how much you try to work with them or make them realize what they might lose. You have to make your peace with this fact and prepare yourself for that possibility. What are you prepared to do if you are unable to reach a toxic employee and cannot find grounds to terminate this person? Rather than wait for this possibility, plan for it from the start so you have a well-thought-out and effective plan of action should the situation require it.
Don’t Rationalize or Defend Terrible Behavior
When it comes to brilliant toxic employees, you may find yourself making excuses for or even defending their behavior because of overall job performance. The problem with this is that you are actually enabling the person and her or his behavior. It doesn’t matter if a person is fantastic at her or his job, if that individual’s presence or personality is harmful to the workplace, it’s something that needs to be addressed.
Your first instinct might be to show caustic workers the door, but that’s not always the best option. Try to resolve the matter in a way that benefits everyone involved, but recognize the fact that there’s simply no getting through to some people. In any case, hope for the best while you prepare for the worst. Best of luck!