Sunday, December 11, 2011

5 Signs You Have a Toxic Employee

There are marginal employees, weak employees, and problem employees. A drain on your business, and you'd be better off without them. Then there are toxic employees. These people are a cancer that's eating away at your business hour by hour. You have no idea how much these people are costing you, and they could cost you your company.

What's the difference between a lousy employee and a toxic employee? Intent. Most lousy employees are that way due to a benign disregard for what you want. Toxic employees, on the other hand are actively undermining you. Here are some examples of behaviors I've seen from toxic employees:
  1. Manipulation -- They consistently manipulate others into doing what they want or forgiving their misdeeds. They ask forgiveness rather than permission, and then cleverly avoid any accountability or penalties for their actions (see #3 below).
  2. Misrepresentation -- They spin communications to their benefit. They misrepresent the company to customers, and they misrepresent commitments they've made to customers. They say things like, "I didn't tell them we'd do that", when, in fact, they either did or they let the customer believe we would.
  3. Misappropriation -- They use company funds in inappropriate ways. A recent example given by a member of Chief Executive Boards International was an employee's use of a company credit card to charge a personal vacation. He then came in and said, "You can take it out of my pay over the next 3-4 pay periods."  Imagine that, he wrote himself a personal loan out of company funds and expected (and got) no consequences from it! I once saw a toxic employee vote himself a raise by writing down unapproved overtime. I think he was in cahoots with the payroll clerk, who never called it to the attention of the owner.
  4. Inciting discontent -- They start rumors or twist facts to pit other employees against each other, against their supervisors or against you.
  5. General mischief -- They're troublemakers, sometimes not for any obvious reason. It's not that there's something in it for them, they just have a pathological need to stir things up.
You may be thinking, "Yeah, that sounds like Joe, but I'm working with him on it."  Forget it.  You can't fix these people.  They've been operating this way since childhood, and it's a deep-seated psychological problem that you're probably not qualified to fix (if indeed they want to be fixed). 

If you have one of these folks on your payroll, his antics have become a spectator sport. All the other employees are in the bleachers watching to see what you're going to do about it. They know. They know you know. They're just waiting to see how long it will take for you to get rid of the toxic employee. And then the REAL fun starts when all the other stories of misdeeds and toxic behavior come out. You won't believe some of the stuff you'll hear.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International
Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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