The fish rots from the head…. and the tail

Managing Toxic Employees

Most people blame a toxic organisational culture on the leaders of the business. But a bad workplace culture can also be the result of toxic employees in the workplace.
What do you do if your workplace is under the influence of toxic employees?

Consultants often stumble across dysfunctional organisational cultures, which to the surprise of many, are the result of toxic employees who cannot be led, managed, motivated or inspired to tow the party line.

Toxic employees thrive in an environment where there is little or no performance management. Often, they are long-serving employees, who have slipped through the performance management net or could have been inherited as part of a merger or acquisition.

How to identify a toxic employee in the workplace

• Employees who don’t follow the rules or management direction
• Often passive aggressive (say one thing, but do the opposite)
• Disrespect leadership and authority
• Actively undermine management at every opportunity
• Utilise peer pressure on new employees to discourage compliance
• Often feel ‘entitled’ and ‘deserving’ of special treatment
• Regularly do not comply with work rules & practices
• Can be a subject matter expert or possess a lot of valuable ‘company knowledge’

Working with or leading toxic employees is exhausting and demoralising. It negatively impacts on the job satisfaction of those employees who are outside of the toxic group and will often be a leading cause of regrettable staff turnover (i.e.: losing the good ones, including good managers).

What to do with the rotten fish tail?

Cut it off. Experience tells us that there is not much that can be done to positively change a toxic employee. It usually requires a strong leader to manage their exit from the business and try to mitigate the damage they cause on the way out.