A toxic employee is someone who is working against their employer. This occurs when the employee begins to believe they are right and the employer is wrong. The truth: it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong for the employee to be toxic. The situation of the toxic employee is what matters. If it continues over any significant period of time, is damaging to both the employee and the employer. In fact, a lot of studies show that toxic employees are a major cause of highly engaged employees leaving. Would you rather be an employer that keeps highly engaged or highly toxic employees? The obvious answer is highly engaged, but it is surprising how many of us inadvertently keep the toxic ones.
We see employers make 2 mistakes when it comes to these toxic employees.
- They Overestimate their Value – Many employers like to see the good in people and focus their attention on the things the toxic employee does right. Many toxic employees are very competent at their job, but show their toxicity in other ways such as having a negative influence on others, including customers or patients. We see many employers overestimate this value and fear losing the employee. Then if the employee does leave or is promoted to their next opportunity outside of the organization, the organization typically finds they are easier to replace than they thought.
- They Underestimate their Negative Impact – Employers rarely have good visibility on the real damage being caused by toxic employees. They negatively impact morale on a daily basis. They lead others into toxicity. They are hurting your organization in ways that are hard to see.