Dealing with a Toxic Employee

In almost every organisation, whether it be a church, a charity or a company, there is that one person (or two, or three!) who is the drama-mama or the gossiping Joe. Sometimes, they may be very skilled at what they do; and they may know it, too! So, how do you deal with the mamas and the Joes when you have to? Yes, indeed, there is one sure way to deal with them; and many of their colleagues may even suggest it: termination. But if such an employee has intellectual capital that is the envy of other companies, you may not want to get rid of them that quickly. So, what’s the real solution…or is there one?

It is totally unfair for one bad apple to spoil the whole lot. However, I’ve seen this happen in many
companies, where people tip-toe around someone simply because that person may be overly moody, easily upset or just highly strung all-round. Not right. Create an environment where each employee is held accountable, including mama and Joe! This means that even though they may be brilliant at what they do, if they constantly make terrible mistakes or if they disrespect a colleague, there must be consequences. This sets precedent to which management can refer when or if there is future trouble.

Investigate coaching options. I once dealt with a very toxic manager, who was likened to a militant chief. However, there was no other manager that could rival her when it came to facts, figures and statistics. She was definitely an asset to the firm. She was sent on a managerial course, which dealt with “effective management techniques.” She didn’t realise that she was being coached or coerced into a better way of managing. Was it expensive? Yes. However, it was an investment in the future of that company…and it worked!

Communicate with that person. This ideally is the first step towards peace in the workplace.  However, for communication to be effective, there must be give and take from both sides. Remember that. (One of my earlier articles deals with effective communication) Try to understand why the employee behaves the way he does and explain the cause and effect of such behaviour within his environment.  Sometimes, however, no matter how brilliant one person may be, there comes a point when one has to let go. If after various methods are used to improve behaviour, there is still no such improvement, you may have no choice but to bite the bullet and part company with said employee. This is always the last resort.

Lots of love & good vibes, Veoma Ali

Veoma Ali is an Advertising Executive, with a Ph.D in Communications and a Masters in Business Administration.