Letting go of employees is never easy; however, parting ways with toxic employees is an entirely different story. Believe me when I say, I had to navigate the process of terminating several employees in the past eight months.
Within every organization, there are individuals who exude negativity in the workplace. In fact, a noteworthy study conducted by Michael Housman and Dylan Minor in 2015 at the prestigious Harvard Business School defined toxic workers as those who “engage in behavior that is detrimental to an organization, including causing harm to either its property or people.” These toxic employees not only harm the morale of the entire team but also impede productivity and create a hostile work environment.
It is crucial for employers and managers to swiftly identify these toxic behaviors and take immediate action to remove them from the organization. In this post, we will uncover seven startling types of toxic employees that you simply cannot afford to retain on your team. Let us dive in!
#1: THE DRAMA QUEEN/KING
The drama queen or king thrives on creating drama and conflicts in the workplace. They are always the center of gossip and stir up trouble among co-workers. Moreover, they have a knack for twisting stories in their favor. For instance, a drama queen or king may claim, “I worked really hard, but other team members did not put in enough effort. That’s why we lost the client.” Their negative energy can swiftly permeate the entire team, resulting in a toxic work environment where productivity and cooperation suffer.
#2: THE CHRONIC COMPLAINER
No matter how well things are going, the chronic complainer always manages to find something to complain about. Whether it’s the lack of free food in the pantry or the length of a meeting, their complaints encompass both major and minor issues. They drain the enthusiasm and motivation of those around them by constantly fixating on the negative aspects of work. Moreover, their complaining attitude has the potential to be contagious, significantly affecting the team’s ability to maintain a positive mindset and effectively overcome challenges. Can you think of someone who exudes the characteristics of the chronic complainer?
#3: THE MANIPULATOR
Recently, our organization had to part ways with a manipulator. This individual possessed a remarkable ability to manipulate others through persuasive language, ultimately captivating the heart of our boss and shamelessly exploiting it for personal gain. Engaging in mind games and skillfully manipulating circumstances, he managed to embezzle money from the organization and evade any consequences. Manipulators like him have truly mastered the art of manipulation, utilizing it to obtain their desires.
The presence of such manipulative individuals erodes trust and instills a pervasive sense of unease within the team, thereby hindering the fostering of collaboration and open communication.
#4: THE SLACKER
Oh, the advent of mobile phones and portable gadgets has certainly expanded the arsenal of the slacker! Have you ever experienced the frustration of having co-workers who would rather indulge in video games while you diligently complete an important report?
The slacker is perpetually lagging behind on their tasks, expertly procrastinating and making up excuses to justify their lack of productivity. As a result, the burden of their unfinished work falls unfairly on the shoulders of diligent team members, who are left to pick up the slack. This toxic employee not only impedes overall productivity but also fuels a sense of resentment among hardworking colleagues. It’s a recipe for dissatisfaction and frustration in the workplace.
#5: THE BULLY
Much like the manipulator, the bully also prioritizes their personal interests above all else. Bullies resort to intimidation, belittlement, and humiliation to exert power over their colleagues, thereby cultivating a hostile work environment. The consequences of their actions can be deeply damaging, inflicting severe psychological and emotional distress on their victims, which in turn leads to decreased job satisfaction and a higher turnover rate. It becomes crucial to take immediate action to safeguard the well-being of the entire team.
However, what if the bully happens to occupy a position in upper management? This poses an even greater challenge and calls for careful consideration of the best course of action.
#6: THE CONSTANT NEGATIVIST
The chronic complainer can overlap some of his or her qualities to the constant negativist. This toxic employee consistently finds ways to criticize and dampen the mood, always seeking out flaws and faults.
Unfortunately, their negative mindset has the potential to spread like wildfire, adversely affecting team morale and stifling creativity. Surrounding oneself with a constant stream of negativity can impede progress and hinder the team from realizing its full potential.
#7: THE GOSSIPER
My previous workplace was plagued with gossipers! A drama queen/king’s accomplice, the gossiper, is particularly harmful when they engage in malicious behavior. They propagate falsehoods about their co-workers, causing harm to healthy working relationships and disrupting team dynamics. In addition to spreading tales about fellow employees, they often initiate rumors about the company itself, such as new policies, impending layoffs, or structural changes.
In any carefully selected basket, there will always be a few bad apples. However, toxic employees have no place in a healthy and productive work environment. Their negative conduct undermines teamwork, dampens productivity, and diminishes employee morale. By identifying and addressing these seven types of toxic employees, organizations can establish a positive and supportive workplace culture that allows employees to flourish.