How Toxic Employees Can Poison Your Enterprise

How Toxic Employees Can Poison Your Enterprise

Leadership | Posted by YouInc.com - February 12, 2016 at 1:00 am
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We have all been duped by candidates who present well in an interview. They show up anticipating your every move and have answers for all your challenging questions. They neatly package their vulnerabilities as learning opportunities and impress you with how they’ve addressed their shortcomings.

It’s normal to have bad days that we are not proud of. There is a difference, however, between somebody experiencing an off-day and somebody whose behaviour can potentially derail your team, clients and organization.

Here are some common problematic traits. Do you recognize them in any of your employees?

The Narcissist – Smooth and uber-cool at the outset; others can easily be taken in by their charm. They are poor listeners and love to hear themselves speak. They elevate themselves by putting team members down. Out to win at the expense of others. Best at attracting sycophants.

The Psychopath – Convince you they are benevolent. They wow you with their business savvy and before you know it, you have agreed to a model or approach you inherently know is all wrong but alas, you did it anyway. End result? You feel you’ve been had and guess what: you have.

The Histrionic – Zero emotional resilience, all scenarios are emergencies. They are prone to exaggeration, attention-seekers and disruptors of harmony. They foster an out-of-control climate.

The Passive-Aggressive – They are always skeptical. Seek out conflict by saying yes but they do their own thing instead. Undermine leadership by engaging in insidious behaviour such as overlooking key details, ignoring a client until it’s almost too late and overextending themselves so they compromise quality and jeopardize the project.

The Depressive – They “yah but” you to death. If you arrive at the office brimming with energy, I guarantee that by noon they will have you zapped. They excel at pointing out all the flaws in your proposal but are always short on solutions. In essence they are one big drag.

As you read through these toxic behaviours, does anyone come to mind? These individuals are more than just annoying. You will pay a cost. And those costs could be multifaceted. The liabilities may include:

  • Loss of revenue

  • Valued employees becoming a flight risk

  • Disengaged team

  • Less than top-tier work

  • Shift in strategic focus

So as entrepreneurs and business leaders, what does human nature suggest we do? Generally we wait and somehow justify the behaviour. What we don’t necessarily do is take swift action. As a leader you run the risk of your senior team questioning your judgment. It is always challenging to address these behaviours head on. Having said that, your team looks to you for direction, wants to be confident that you are in charge and will respect you for making tough calls. You need your business to thrive and prosper. We all have annoying idiosyncrasies, but this is different.

Employees with toxic behaviour can derail and jeopardize your path to success. Take ownership and reshuffle the deck. It will be painful in the short-term, but preventive action is your leverageable asset.

Tags: negative traits, problem employees, strong leadership, tough decisions, toxic behaviour, media, employees, hiring, hr, leadership advice, mental health, narcissism, operations, personalities, revenue

Cindy Wahler
Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in succession planning and talent management. For additional information or to get in touch with Dr. Wahler, please click here.
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