Toxic employees are all around us. We do our best when hiring to weed out those candidates whom would create a toxic environment but some will always find a way through.
How do you identify a toxic employee? What is the ultimate sign of a toxic employee? An employee who creates office politics and drama is the ultimate toxic employee. This person pits people against each other, including the management or leadership team. They tell one person one thing that someone said and then tell the other person the same thing was said about them.
They create panic among the team by carefully crafting a question that gets others to think they are being treated with injustice or that the organization is somehow not going to honor its commitments. They plant seeds of doubt and then prey on that doubt by persuading everyone that doom is inevitable unless they “band together to fight the fight”.
Whatever method the toxic employee uses to create office politics and drama, it is a distraction. A distraction from doing the work that needs done, a distraction from servicing your customers and most importantly a distraction from their own insecurities and lack of abilities to do the job they were hired for. After all, if you are busy chasing around office politics and drama you can’t focus on and address the gaps in their performance.
Ironically enough this skill would be highly valuable if it were being used for good rather than evil. The good side of this skill is that it would bring people together to solve real issues that would help the team and organization succeed. Instead of planting seeds of doubt that they aren’t valued, they would plant seeds of what greatness could be achieved. This skill can rally others behind something that would make the team win rather than creating in-fighting.
You have only two choices when dealing with a toxic employee. You can find out why they are creating a toxic environment and help them through it or you can part ways and remove them from the team. Depending on the length of time they have been eroding the cohesion of the team and the level of drama or divide they have brought you may choose to try to modify their thought process. If the damage has been great or going on for a long time, removing them from the team may be the better solution.