Getting the mix of personalities in the workplace right can be extremely challenging.
Creating a harmonious workplace is difficult at the best of times, and if a toxic personality is thrown into the equation, it can disturb the equilibrium of the workplace.
Let's take a look at how you can identify and deal with a toxic worker in your organisation.
Essentially, a toxic employee is one who puts their own needs above those of their co-workers, and negatively influences those around them.
There is no central factor that necessarily determines whether somebody is a toxic worker. But according to a paper published by Harvard Business School, 'key' toxic personality traits include:
The paper also identified a number of other potential signs of a toxic personality:
Having a worker with a combination of these personality traits can lead to significant issues for an organisation, including a loss of clients, worsening reputation, poor morale or all the above.
Toxic workers can cause an increase in bullying and harassment complaints being received and unsafe work practices, which may result in physical or mental harm to other employees.
This type of employee can also be "contagious". An unhappy or unpleasant co-worker can spark dissatisfaction amongst employees, and result in high staff turnover.
It can be extremely difficult to recognise some of these personality traits in an interview process.
For this reason, it's important for human resources teams to not only have training in how to identify toxic staff, but also in how to deal with their performance if they have been hired. The emphasis during reasonable performance management steps need to focus not only on the employee's output, but also on the conduct issues observed.
One of the strongest defences against toxic workers is a strong culture that focuses on employee wellbeing, openness and transparency and the avoidance of competition between staff.
Conducting regular staff surveys and business "health checks" by touching base with your workers, finding out what motivates them and ensuring that they are satisfied in their relationships with co-workers can also keep your organisation protected from the influences of toxic employees.
One solution to spotting a problem in your workplace is a cultural survey. If your organisation has a concern about a toxic worker, or staff are making complaints, we recommend conducting one of these surveys. If you would like assistance with this, contact WISE today!
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