Any workplace will be full of different personality types. It is natural that there will occasionally be clashes, and even good employees will often act in ways that are counter-productive to the company’s goals.
However, from time to time, there may be individuals who display behavioral traits that are detrimental to those around them and cause slow but insidious long-term damage to workforce functions. Here are some examples of the most common toxic behaviors, with examples of how you can eradicate them:
The Negative Individual
Every workplace has one: the individual who regards changes to working practices as a personal affront. They are critical of management, yet they seem to have no specific grievances — only an endless litany of non-specific grumbles.
These individuals are kryptonite to employee motivation; keen and confident employees are soon brought down to the same level as this individual, and this can cause apathy to descend on the workplace.
It is important that managers realize that employees often voice valid concerns and that this is not necessarily a mark of a negative attitude. The best technique for dealing with negative employees is to give them ample opportunity to bring valid concerns to the table. However, if they are unwilling to do so, or have no constructive changes to suggest, this is the point at which you will need to encourage them to change their attitude to work.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute‘s 2017 survey (www.workplacebullying.org/wbiresearch/wbi-2017-survey), 19 percent of US workers have experienced bullying, and another 19 percent have witnessed some form of bullying behavior.
Bullying can have a catastrophic effect on employee motivation, with reduced productivity, absenteeism and increased staff turnover having a direct impact on the company’s well-being. It also thrives and spreads in organizations where there is a culture of fear.
The WBI also claims that 71 percent of cases, the employer’s response to a bullying claim compounds the impact of the behavior on the target. Furthermore, bullying can often be discriminatory, so it is imperative that you use the full range of available sanctions to stamp out bullying.
The Narcissistic Schemer
Workplaces thrive when everyone pulls together to achieve a common goal. However, it is common for some people to allow self-interest to cloud their judgment, and this can undermine team performance. Taking credit for the work of others while denigrating their contributions and the use of malicious gossip are the hallmarks of the schemer.
As a manager, it is essential you recognize this behavior for what it is and avoid becoming an accessory to the schemer’s ploys. Instead, challenge them over their actions and stress to them the importance of achieving team goals over individual advancement.
It is important to realize that employees are only human, and occasionally make mistakes. However, the impact of culture on the performance of an organization cannot be stressed enough.
The toxic behavior of an individual can create a toxic culture that is detrimental to the company achieving its goals, and this culture, once established, can be almost impossible to change. Therefore, it is imperative that toxic employees are dealt with quickly and firmly to encourage a positive working environment.
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