An egomaniac, a bully and an invisible man are talking at the water cooler. It might sound like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s not. It could be an actual scene at your place of work, which would be no laughing matter.
Have you ever had to deal with an employee that was simply toxic for your workplace? Someone who is constantly at the center of disputes and problems at work, someone whose presence seems to decrease everyone’s productivity, demotivate even your best employees and put your business at risk?
Negative comments, gossip or even bullying, are just some of the things that these types of employees bring to your place of work.
Sometimes, difficult employees just need more attention from management. Their “toxic” behavior can sometimes be fixed with the right approach and suitable management style to fulfill their potentials. Other times you just need to cut your losses and get rid of them.
As a business leader, you need to develop the skills to identify these types of people and deal with them in a way that can help you lead your company toward success.
But before that happens, you need to spot these employees and save your business from their bad influence. Here are some of the types of toxic employees that can hurt you the most.
Egomaniacs are the opposite of team players. They exhibit a lot of arrogance and envy and are usually not capable of recognizing other people’s work unless there’s something in it for them.
But they are hard to spot, partly because you will never hear them saying something directly, as they tend to agree with everything their co-workers do or say. For Egomaniacs, this is just a way of verbally bridging the gap so they can continue ignoring advice and direction.
One of the worst traits of the Egomaniac and similar narcissistic types is that they believe they are unique and talented above and beyond everyone else on your team. They rarely ask for more information on things they know little about and tend to avoid teamwork.
Egomaniacs always try to gain more control. Once they get it, they are no longer interested in their actual jobs or tasks. In other words, business decisions serve their purposes of patting themselves on the back instead of serving the well-being and success of the business.
How to handle the Egomaniac?
Egomaniacs are not likely to change, although it’s not entirely impossible. If the Egomaniac on your team is very talented, there might be a way to make it possible for him or her to work alone or with limited team interaction.
If they are highly motivated, some Egomaniacs might even be able to make adjustments to their behavior. It’s up to you to find the right way to approach them and present a plan that enables them to focus on themselves without negatively affecting the rest of your staff.
The biggest problem with the Two-Faced employee is that they are very hard to spot, simply because they are very rarely appearing two-faced to anyone on a personal basis.
They are usually friendly and helpful when talking one-on-one. They also get friendly with many co-workers and are always ready to hear complaints. And then they turn everyone against each other.
The biggest problem with this type of employee is that they can create major workplace conflicts without anyone leaving anything that’s going to trace the conflict back to them.
The Two-Faced employee can cleverly impose negativity into any situation and make it seem as if these negative feelings are coming from a place that has nothing to do with them.
Another big problem with spotting these type of employees and stopping them from doing their dirty work is that they are usually quite popular among coworkers.
How to handle the Two-Faced?
It depends on how extreme the situation is getting. But if you do identify such an employee that tends to love stirring up drama but doesn’t affect your team vibe that negatively, feel free to keep them around if they are good workers – just don’t give them any type of leadership role.
Unfortunately, more extreme versions just cannot be “fixed.” If you find out that an employee has been influencing other employees negatively or creating conflicts repeatedly, the only way to handle this type of toxic employee is to fire them.
You’ve heard this one before: “Hey, I won’t be able to come to work today, I’m sick again!”
“I’d love to help you out, but I am just too busy.”
The Invisible man is never there when work needs to be done.
This toxic type of staff member always finds a way to avoid work. It’s almost like a side job to them. The worst traits of the Invisible Man are a lack of motivation, absenteeism and almost never clocking into work shifts on time. They also tend to drain everyone else’s energy and enthusiasm.
While they are not fond of doing any work, they are more than happy to let everyone else pick up the slack. If they can get away with it, they will, and they won’t care about what other team members think of them.
How to handle The Invisible Man?
Just like Egomaniacs, the Invisible Man rarely changes. It might be because deep down, they know that the job they have now isn’t for them. Try talking honestly about their fit and role in your business and see if there is something else they would rather be doing in order to find a way in which he or she can truly contribute to the team.
Employees with sociopathic tendencies can create chaos and destruction on all levels. It takes one Bully to create a hostile environment for everyone else at the office. Some of the worst traits of the Bully are issues with authority and a penchant for manipulation.
There’s no way to put it lightly – workplace bullying is a serious problem.
According to Workplace Bullying Institute, “Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or work-interference, i.e. sabotage, which prevents work from getting done.”
Workplace bullying is, unfortunately, very common. According to WBI, bullying is four times more common than both sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job. Almost 75% of employees surveyed in this research had been affected by workplace bullying, either as a target or a witness
Bullied employees experience an increase in stress that can cause health problems. Their performances decline and they dread coming to work.
If you are allowing bullying to continue, you are accepting a toxic culture that leaves the target in a very difficult position. Eventually, the bullied employees will have no other choice but to leave. A bully rarely focuses on just one employee to torment. If you know that there is one person at your workplace being bullied, there are surely more.
How to handle The Bully?
Get rid of them. Take all complaints seriously and enforce anti-bullying policies. Don’t forget to trust your instincts either. If you have a bad feeling about an employee, keep an eye on them and their interactions with other. Make sure that you are providing an open and safe environment at work in which all employees can discuss any issues they might have with other employees, especially issues as serious as bullying.
There are a few versions of the Distractor, but they all have one thing in common- they don’t work much. In some cases, the Distractor consistently appeals for help and relies on other people to clean up their mistakes. This behavior creates frustration and tanks productivity for the whole team. They almost always seem helpless, disorganized and resistant to change or initiative.
The Distractor doesn’t take the job seriously at all. They are always on the phone, taking breaks and generally doing anything but their jobs. They are often very friendly and are constantly talking about anything other than work in order to distract others from the fact that they aren’t working.
How to handle the Distractor?
Offer extra training and improvement plans. Provide support and regular direction for them. Also, make sure you are always clear about appropriate behavior at the office. Sometimes the Distractor just needs a little bit of guidance to achieve their full potential and bring something useful to the team.
It’s not what you think. The Burnout isn’t someone who’s always high on the wacky tobacky. The Burnout seems like the total opposite of the Distractor. In theory, he or she is every employer’s dream, management material. But that’s not at all the case.
The Burnout usually insists on doing everything themselves. They also want everyone else to know just how much they are sacrificing for the job. For example, they come to work when sick to show how dedicated they are to work and end up getting everyone else sick in the process. Eventually, they’ll end up burning out and crashing.
How to handle Mr. Burnout?
With the Burnout, you need to incentivize teamwork over individual efforts. Do that by fostering collaboration. Encourage them to take time off, explain the benefits of taking breaks and assure them that nothing negative will happen if they aren’t in the workplace all the time.
Make it clear that you don’t expect from them to sacrifice their personal lives because for the job. Introduce stress management measures and focus on showing them how to be more efficient at work.