GCE Strategic Consulting

Blog - GCE Consultant's Insight

The blog that shares our expertise and perspective for driving business transformation, based on the successes and failures we've seen everywhere from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

Toxic Employees Are Death To Morale

 Welcome back! This is my next article in the “Optimal Organization” series.  Last week we looked at Problem Solving and today I want to talk about Toxic Employees. So the first question is “What the heck is a toxic employee?”A toxic employee exhibits one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Playing Games with Other’s Emotions - These individuals are one of the most destructive in my opinion and, in all truthfulness, are probably tied to individuals suffering from some sort of mental health issue.  
  • Gossiping - You know the one - the person who talks about everyone and everything, usually behind people’s backs. This can lead to employees losing focus and spreading false information which negatively impacts the results and the morale of your team.
  • Negative Attitude - If you have a member on your team that is constantly negative it will bring your entire team down once again lowering results and leading to the disengagement of your top employees. You are only as strong as your weakest link and someone with a negative attitude is a weak link.
  • Lying or Misleading You or Others - Those that fit this category can cost you a lot of money and breakdown significant trust across the business.

Unfortunately most companies with thirty or more employees are going to have someone that fits in one of these buckets.  I personally worked with a company a while back that was plagued with people in all of these buckets from the top down. It destroyed the company and drove their best people out of the organization. I have also seen countless examples where, once I removed a toxic employee, performance levels would go up significantly without replacing the head count and adding more cost to the business.  One example was with the same company I mentioned above; we let one of three business development people go.  Results afterward went up - by 50% - and we never backfilled the position. In effect, we cut cost by a third AND increased results.Your first step is to see if you have an employee that fits in one of the toxic-employee buckets. Next, if you do have a toxic employee, have a coaching conversation with that employee and set clear expectations. Bring at least three examples you can explain cause and effect. Give a timetable for improvement. I recommend thirty days, with a halfway check in to reinforce the good behavior, or to show you’re paying attention to the bad behavior. Last, if the behavior improves, praise the change in behavior and show the results to the formerly toxic employee. Often these employees had no idea of their impact on the organization’s bottom line. And if the behavior doesn’t improve within thirty days, remove that employee as soon as possible. Not only will you be happier, the rest of your employees will be happier, and profits will improve due to the increase in performance in your company.These situations can be challenging for a small business. Focus on the full impact to your company and consider how best to mitigate any legal risks. If you have any questions in this area, we are happy to help. The next topic we will discuss is how to run better meetings that drive real results.