7 Reasons you have Toxic employees.


There are 7 reasons you have toxic employees that cause you stress.
There are 7 reasons you have toxic employees that cause you stress.

I was reading an article on ways to lower your workplace stress, written by David Posen. Number 5 on Posen’s list was: identify problem people and deal rid of them. As he said “Abusive people wreak havoc in the workplace, keeping coworkers on edge and distracted. They kill engagement, morale and productivity.” I agree with him and it reminded me of a post I wrote back in 2008 about toxic employees. In Toxic Employees: Some Are Like Atomic Waste and Never Go Away, I listed 7 reasons you have toxic employees.
Mistakes you keep paying for
We have all had toxic employees or have them now. They serve as a constant reminder of our mistakes. Mistakes? What mistakes you ask? Here are the mistakes you have made to get that toxic employee:

  1. You did not clearly understand what you needed in a new employee.
  2. You did not clearly understand your corporate culture.
  3. You allowed time pressure to outweigh your common sense.
  4. You did a rotten job of interviewing because you did not know what you were looking for.
  5. You “sold” in the interview instead of “asking.”
  6. You got “wowed” by a school, a degree, a title, a company.
  7. You did not do your due diligence and do a thorough background check.

Why you still have them
Here is why you still have them:

  • When you realized they were “bad news” you did nothing about it, hoping they would get better.
  • You did not measure their performance.
  • You did not document their poor performance.
  • You did not act to stop their “bad mouthing” the boss/other employees/the company/etc.
  • You ran scared because they were (in no particular order): over 40, female, black, Asian, Hispanic, pregnant, Islamic, Jewish, Baptist, Catholic, disabled, etc.

So to avoid toxic employees avoid hiring them in the first place. If you have one act on doing something right away. Posen says “Employers need to identify problem people and put them on notice that their behavior will not be tolerated…. Fix them or Fire them.” Otherwise if they stay they poison everyone. And sometimes even when you do get rid of them they keep coming back and back and back. They threaten lawsuits, they file lawsuits, they harass you and other employees, they “bad mouth” your company, they steal your employees and generally make life miserable for you in any way they can. They end up costing money, time and energy.
So get some backbone, make good decisions and don’t procrastinate. Hire slow and fire fast is what I always advise. What can you add to this discussion? Other tips or reasons I missed?

2 thoughts on “7 Reasons you have Toxic employees.”

  1. I’ve heard some pretty crazy stories about “toxic employees”. One time I had a person tell me that one of their employees was upset about having to use the new time clock software they had purchased. This employee managed to log onto the bosses computer, and set up a password to lock everyone out of it. They contacted several IT people to try to get in, but no success. The thing I thought was crazy is they just let the employee walk all over them like this. They didn’t do anything to punish this employee. They only talked about buying a new computer.

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