How to Manage Toxic Employees

25 Dec 2020 | 5 min read

A toxic employee could be someone with anger management problems or someone who doesn’t keep any deadlines. Sometimes it’s the employee who spends more time complaining about work than doing it. While it’s one thing to try to work with toxic employees, it’s another to manage them, and to be the one responsible for trying to improve their bad habits. Handling a toxic worker requires a certain finesse and some strategy.

Have a private and thoughtful discussion.

Sometimes people are exhibiting toxic behaviors because of what’s happening in their home life and they don’t realize that they’re reacting to that outside stress in a disruptive or disrespectful way at work. You won’t know the root cause of the bad behavior until you have a conversation with them to discuss the behavior you’ve observed, and sometimes they don’t know how to act otherwise.

Get ready for pushbacks.

Toxic employees aren’t known for being pushovers. Really toxic employees will be able to debate virtually anything because no matter what you tell them, they’re going to deny it and argue it. Also, they probably aren’t going to change their tune overnight. It takes time and repetition and perseverance for the other person to realize and change. Remember, you’re the boss, if they’re unwilling or unable to address this behavior, which can be very damaging to the rest of the team, you may have to take some significant steps, like a warning or an exit.

Document everything.

Keep a record of the employee’s activities that you believe are disruptive. Refer to this list when you meet with the employee to discuss their performance. Pointing out specific examples may help them recognize types of behaviors that they don’t even realize they’re exhibiting. Give them a chance to make a change. This may mean involving human resources, which is both smart from a groundwork perspective and also useful for you professionally.

Give constructive feedbacks in public.

Although a private conversation with your employee is a good place to tackle nitty gritty details, letting things pass in a group environment can send the wrong message. Don’t let obnoxious behavior pass you by. The rest of the team is watching, and if you’re not acting, you’re condoning.

Comment on the behavior, not the character.

If you start a conversation by telling someone they’re being condescending, you’re not going to make much headway. Focus on the exact behavior that you want them to change and the outcome that wasn’t good. You can ask them to brainstorm different ways to deal with that specific behavior.

How to Manage Toxic Employees
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