- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
A business is defined by its employees and anyone else who interacts with it. Therefore, it’s a safe assumption to say that a business filled with positive and optimistic people will itself be a positive and helpful company. However, the reverse is also true; toxic people in business can create an organizational monster and make an unpleasant experience both for customers or clients and employees currently within the business itself.
Today, let’s look at why you need to get rid of toxic people ASAP and how this can affect your company for the better.
WHAT IS A TOXIC PERSON?
Before we dive in, let’s be clear about what a toxic person is, especially in relation to business. A toxic person isn’t necessarily an employee that struggles with their work or who needs a little extra help getting out of a slump, emotional or otherwise. Everyone has bad days from time to time or may struggle with mental health issues, and such employees need support, not exclusion.
A toxic person is instead defined by:
- general social malpractices (i.e. lying, gossiping, name-calling, etc.)
- a refusal to change behavior for the good of the company or coworkers
- general bad business or work behavior
- poor manners and respect for proper authority
In this way, it’s easy to see that a toxic person is someone that knows what they’re doing is wrong and also refuses to change or improve. Such people should be fired from your organization as soon as possible, and for the following reasons.
TOXIC PEOPLE DO BAD WORK
For starters, toxic people almost uniformly do terrible work regardless of industry or position. Forget the Hollywood inspired stereotype that jerks sometimes produce great results or record numbers for the company. More often than not, toxic people drag their feet, cut corners or otherwise don’t follow procedures, and generally perform poorly with most or all of their work tasks.
There’s no reason to keep someone like that on your team in the first place, let alone when they have other toxic attributes that make them a drag on employee productivity and your business’ bottom line.
Consider that you could easily replace such a toxic employee with a bare minimum employee that shows up and little else. Also recognize that that bare minimum employee would be a better fit. That’s how little you need toxic employees in your organization.
TOXIC EMPLOYEES DRAG OTHER EMPLOYEES DOWN WITH THEM
Furthermore, toxic employees can affect the other employees in your business. This can have a cascading or spiraling effect where one bad egg spoils the whole batch, as the saying goes. A toxic employee, through their terrible behavior, can cause your other employees to feel bad about themselves, to do subpar work, or take on negative habits that further degrade your workplace’s culture.
Consider, for instance, a gossiper who spends most of their time badmouthing other employees instead of doing their job. Over time, employees may discover the truth about this toxic employee but may also take up gossiping themselves. In no time at all, your workplace culture has gone from a place where your employees generally trusted and appreciated one another, to one where no one trusts anyone else and no work gets done.
All because of a single bad employee.
More importantly, toxic employees tend to be bullies, especially for workers that are otherwise good, but may not have the confidence to stand up for themselves. As a manager, you never want to let these toxic employees run rampant throughout your workplace. Not only is it bad for your bottom line, but it’s a direct failure of your responsibilities as a boss.
TOXIC PEOPLE MAKE YOUR COMPANY LOOK BAD
Another big reason to get rid of toxic people ASAP is that they make your overall company look bad. This is especially true if your company primarily deals with clients or if a large portion of your work is customer/client-facing.
For instance, a law firm with a toxic partner will interact poorly with potential or current clients, making the entire firm look bad, even if all your other lawyers are superstars in their fields. Furthermore, a toxic partner may not do very good work or may bungle a critical case.
In the worst-case scenario, this can cause you to lose current clients and make it very difficult for you to acquire new clients in the near future. In business industries where reputation is everything, toxic employees are risks you can’t afford to keep on board.
TOXIC EMPLOYEES HIRE OTHER TOXIC EMPLOYEES
Furthermore, toxic employees are bad for business because they tend to hire other toxic employees whenever they’re in a managerial position or on a hiring board. You can easily see the issue – one toxic employee is bad enough for any company or organization, but multiple toxic employees can systematically dismantle your positive workplace culture and make your company fail at several points.
New employees who do a great job are the lifeblood of any company that wants to keep growing and evolving. Toxic employees that hire other bad employees steal this opportunity for development from your organization and make it much more difficult to recover from occasional employee turnover or transfers.
You should never let a toxic employee get to a managerial position in the first place. But if they do somehow get there, get rid of them ASAP.
TOXIC PEOPLE MAKE YOUR WORK STRESSFUL
Lastly, don’t discount the effect that a toxic person can have on your workload or mental health as a manager. Toxic employees can be absolutely maddening to deal with, especially since firing an employee can take a lot of monitoring and work before you find a rightful cause.
As a manager, you have a big responsibility to your organization, but you also have a responsibility to yourself. Don’t let a toxic employee keep dragging your mood or mental health down just because of their own issues. A big reason to get rid of toxic employees is to help you as well as your company. In fact, both causes are related.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell