Top Ten Toxic Employees and How to Deal With Them

By Kelly A Smith

A toxic employee can reside at all levels within the company. Whether your toxic employees is a high ranking executive or the entry-level newbie to the team the negative impact they have on morale and productivity is staggering. Your solid employees won’t put up with it. The disdain for the toxic employee will quickly spread to contempt for management wondering why they are putting up with the noxious behaviour.

Following are top ten toxic employee traits.
1. Angry Bird – Perhaps the most toxic of all is the angry bird employee. This is the employee that actually yells at co-workers and/or customers. Angry bird makes good employees and customers take flight, fast!
2. Excuse Maker – This employee never made it past the ‘not me’ stage of childhood. They will find excuse after excuse for not taking responsibilities for their actions or inaction.
3. Gossiper – The gossiper will spread rumours or put a negative spin to everything they discuss thus creating a chasm between co-workers and management.
4. Lone Wolf – Sometimes it is the lone wolf that is the highest performer but they can cause trouble when their presence is required in a team effort or when change is introduced. Because the are performing well they think they do not need to collaborate with anyone else. They will not ask for help or directions as they have an attitude of “I can do it myself”.
5. Lazy Bones – This employee has little to no initiative. Lazy bones will do as little as possible to fly under the radar, leaving their team members to pick up the slack.
6. Complainer – No matter what you do, the complainer, will find a reason to be negative. Their dark cloud attitude rains on everyone’s parade.
7. Doesn’t Help Others – They know how to help their co-workers but they are not about to lend a hand unless forced to. Knowledge is valuable and they know and use it to their advantage and their advantage only.
8. Know-it-all – It’s impossible to help the know-it-all grow because, well, they know-it-all.
9. No Motivation – This employee doesn’t want to invest in themselves to grow within their chosen career path. They have no initiative to go beyond what they already know and are already doing. Their peers are gaining certifications, educating themselves on new technology, processes, procedures and the overall growth of their industry but the non-motivated just wants to stay put.
10. Devil-may-care – This is the wild card that breaks the rules, is irresponsible, misses deadlines and lets the chips fall with an “oh well” attitude.

The best solution for dealing with toxic employees is to strengthen your hiring process but even it’s not possible to catch every toxic personality at the pre-hire stage. Once they are in the door having an employee handbook in place that has clear policies for how to handle poor behavior is the best way to protect your business. Here are ten ways to remedy the poisonous influences brought on by some employees.

1. Introduce improvement plans
2. Keep employees alert with frequent, unscheduled check-ins
3. Uncover hidden resentments that are causing the poor behavior
4. Provide clear expectations so there are no misunderstandings when poor behavior is addressed
5. Recognize and reward effort
6. Foster a collaborative rather than competitive workplace
7. Introduce stress management measures
8. Incentivize teamwork over individual effort
9. Take employee complaints seriously
10. Carefully document negative behaviors