- July 19, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Business, Management
Toxic employees can have a negative effect on company morale and production. Their bad behavior doesn’t just limit them and their accomplishments. It spreads like a sickness to the people who work around them, causing all kinds of internal strife and dissatisfaction. Even your star employees, who are probably pulling the weight of the toxic employee, can feel the effects of their poor behavior.
This is why I’ve always been a proponent of hire slow and fire fast. The idea is to take a while to hire people, making sure they’ll be a good fit with your culture, but also being willing to cut them out immediately without prolonging the problem.
I learned that lesson the hard way when I found that in making a bad hire and letting that individual stay in the culture, it actually poisoned the well. And depending on the level the individual is within the organization, the more venomous the poison can be. Basically, the longer you keep them around and the higher up they are in the organization, the more damage they can do.
I remember in one of my old positions that I had hired one guy as a national sales manager. I assumed he was doing his work, but did not realize he had been spending more time politicking around me and above me to my superiors than he actually did in executing his job. He had been telling the other managers that the chairman of the board was going to fire me and he was going to be the next general manager. He even had the other managers convinced of this.
Now, because they thought I was on my way out, nobody shared that with me. But when I noticed that he was not performing at a level he was supposed to, I fired him. That’s when the whole story came pouring out. People told me how he had been politicking with them as well as my boss, which had sown some discord in my department. Even my boss told me my management group was at the point of revolt.
But once I removed this guy from the equation, the feelings of revolt died down and the sense of relief within the organization was palpable. What made the whole thing plausible was that my staff didn’t go to my boss or come to me and ask if it was true (which bothered me a bit, if I’m going to be honest). But the guy was a con man, not a salesman, and it ultimately worked against him. But he was so good at convincing them, they didn’t think it was their place to question him.
Ultimately, “hire slow and fire fast” means you need to think through your interviewing and hiring practices to make sure you get a very good idea of both their personality and their capability. Make sure they’re good at their job, but even more importantly, make sure they’ll fit within the organization without causing any discord.
How do you deal with personnel issues in your company? What kind of experience do you have in dealing with workplace toxicity and negative employees? Share your stories in the comments below.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: NeuPaddy (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0, Public Domain)