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Toxic employees…DANGER

Ubud, Bali - taken by Mikael

They may not be a bad person, however in the framework of your organisation they have become toxic. Culturally, they do not fit, nor do they lift the bar or make a positive impact. You find yourself avoiding them, you don’t want to have lunch with them, nor do you want to hear their opinion in meetings. You do not respect them! All these indicate that something is wrong. The important employer-employee trust relationship is under strain and may be broken. Reasons for this following a successful interview process that led you to making that offer could be:

  • Your organisation has changed e.g. its doubled in size, or shifted focus. As such the field of work has now changed, they’re no longer comfortable plus they’ve been unable to adapt to what the business is now and what’s required of them.

  • They're unmotivated, for the business and quite possibly for life in general. As such their performance has become poor as they’re disengaged and simply don’t care.

  • As a leader, you did not make your expectations clear through communicated and recorded goals with key performance indicators (KPIs) or you have not provided sufficient feedback, resulting in your continued disappointment with their results.

  • You made a hiring error, either they oversold themselves in the interview, you believed them so now they’re in over their head or you misjudged their capability, motivation and fit for your organisation. (more on that here).

For all these, my suggested starting point is an open one-on-one discussion with that employee, aiming to identify the reason they’ve become ’toxic’. Move through the points above to help you identify the reason. Once identified you have some options:

  • Goal Clarification

  • Frequent, at least twice per month concise feedback

  • Training

  • Performance improvement plan

  • Warning for poor performance

  • Demotion

  • Helping them determine if their current role allows them to be their best. If not, why, what action could be taken? Perhaps the organisation is no longer right for them?

Taking action is the most important step. The spotlight is placed on the employee and they will react. There’s no quick win, however the process needs to begin 1) the employee needs to be aware you’re dissatisfied and why, 2) other employees also feel the impact of this toxic employee and look to you, as their leader to do something about it and 3) this problem won’t go away if you ignore it. Good people will go away if you leave it and your business will suffer further.

In Summary: Take action when you identify a toxic employee, if not, not only will their KPI’s not be met, but also will your great people leave.

To discuss these or other topics posted here contact me. It will be great to discuss your business, and identify how we can make it better.

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