Detecting and Handling Toxic Employees in a Company

Finding and retaining valuable employees is important but dealing with toxic ones is inevitable. Everyone knows those types of personalities that others can’t stand, whether at school, university or at work. Such people don’t leave their anger and disrespect at home when they apply for a job and come to work.

When hired, employees are expected to bring value into a company. What toxic employees bring is irritation and poison that quickly affects your top staff members and company’s success. HRs and top managers should be able to detect toxic behavior and take immediate actions to prevent havoc that can destroy your corporate culture. You know how time-consuming and challenging it often is to build this culture. If someone doesn’t care about it, you’d better show them the door. Here are a few character peculiarities that are going to poison your business and need to be dealt with immediately. You will never find a person that possesses all of the below mentioned character habits, but finding a toxic employee with at least two of them is very much likely.

  • 1) Too confident in their capabilities

Operating with minor skills and knowledge, toxic employees think they know everything. They constantly want to prove that their approaches are professional and that only they know how to do things right. Such people often claim that they are mistreated and they cannot show off their full potential because they are not promoted. They get furious when someone else’s ideas have been chosen. In reality, their skills are really poor and they are not in a hurry to master them. When they screw up with something, they will always find an excuse, like a stupid task, non-clear requirements, too little time or bad management.

  • 2) Yelling and shouting at others

Despite your corporate culture saying that employees should deal with things patiently without losing their temper, some of them yell at other employees or even customers. As a result, customers find it reasonable to choose another company to work with and co-workers decide to run away from this stressful environment. It’s quite possible that this employee simply has some personal problems and has lost his\her temper because of this. But if it happens on a regular basis and they do not even feel sorry for their behavior, it means you have a person in your team that may poison your company and its image.

  • 3) Slacker

Each of us is lazy occasionally. Browsing through social media or shopping for some stuff online is something everyone might be caught at. But imagine that someone does it non-stop and doesn’t care what others will think of them. They are just too busy looking for excuses as to why the task hasn’t been done yet. Their gossip talks and coffee breaks distract others from the normal workflow. Such people do not have even the smallest motivation to bring value into the company. They will agree on any idea that passes by because they simply don’t care. Deadline is not the term created for them. They feel happy when the boss leaves because for them it means they can leave too.

  • 4) Careless and unwilling to help

In case of an emergency or whenever the team is expected to unite their efforts together, you might notice that someone in the team cares only about their responsibilities and is unwilling to do anything more. “It’s their problem” – you can hear them saying. They are not going to help newcomers when they screw up, or stay a bit longer at work when the task is urgent.

  • 5) Helpless and passive

For some people, it’s absolutely fine if others do their job. They are not even interested in learning how others do things for them because they know they can always delegate more complex things to someone else. For them, there is no need to bother and learn something new. However, they are absolutely comfortable with receiving credit for someone’s job and making it their own achievement.

  • 6) Always unhappy with everything

Constant complaints about work conditions, low salary, a bad boss or an uninteresting job can often be heard from toxic employees of this type. They always feel like they deserve a promotion or a better salary. But they do not do anything really valuable to get it. In fact, you can hear hem complaining about their life, bad neighbors, bad government, bad system, etc. Their constant negative thoughts and complaints poison other employees and affect the team spirit.

How to Cope with Toxic Employees

The cost of finding new employees to replace those who demonstrated toxic behavior is high. That’s why it is recommended to take all the possible measures to make them better team players.

The following steps can be taken to rid the employees of any toxic habits they might have:

  • Give extra loads
  • Give clear expectations about job results
  • Demand constant progress updates
  • Demand reliability
  • Reward progress
  • Foster collaborative approach
  • Take stress management measures
  • Give employees social time and activities
  • Demand appropriate behavior
  • Take employee complaints into consideration
  • Document negative behavior

When it’s getting impossible to cope with toxic employees, the best solution for management is to show them the door. It may help the company save its corporate culture, retain truly valuable staff and foster stress-free work processes.

Protecting your business from the poisonous influence of toxic employees is vital to prevent havoc and disorganization within your company. Every employee, without any exceptions, should respect and comply with the corporate policy and regulations set by your company. Otherwise, it is better to replace them with those who are going to really care about your business and treat management and other employees with respect.

Beata Green
Beata is Director of HeadChannel Ltd., London based bespoke software development company. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama with a glass of red wine.