If you live in this world, you know that there are people you want to know, people with whom you want a relationship, people who are helpful, trustworthy and productive. There are also those who show potential and promise; those relationships you choose to nurture in hopes of seeing a positive outcome. You also know that there are people who will waste your time and money and frustrate you until you end the relationship. Then there are the people who have some attribute or character trait that makes it hard to leave them behind. They might have a special skill or they might be popular or worth knowing in some way. But, you will definitely pay a price for continuing this relationship.
All of the people I described also exist in business. People are people and they carry their traits and tendencies into the work environment where they can help you, slow you down or hurt you! I can break down these ‘types’ of employees into four categories.
Definitely YES: These are the kind of people you wish you could clone to create an entire team – an entire company – of model business citizens. They are great performers. They have integrity. They are conscientious and they model good behavior. With these winners, your job as manager job is easy! All you have to do is to nurture, and reward them. With this team, you can push forward, onward and upward.
Definitely MAYBE: These employees might deliver acceptable (but not stellar) results or even weak results for a few months or even for a year, but they are hard workers and they exhibit the behavior and integrity you want. As a manager, you might want to give these well-intentioned people a second or even a third chance. Maybe you will offer some additional training or mentoring to resolve the performance issue because you believe they have enough positive qualities to justify the investment.
Definitely NOT: These people deliver poor results and exhibit poor behaviors and traits. For a manager, this is the easiest problem to manage. You KNOW they don’t belong in the organization and you know you need to terminate the relationship.
Tempting But TOXIC! This type of employee is perhaps the most difficult to manage and the most difficult issue to resolve. Employee presents a danger to the team and the organization. An employee like this will deliver numbers but he or she does NOT live the principles and values of the organization. You know the type! Who doesn’t? They exist at every level of nearly EVERY organization, and managers are loathe to confront the issue because they perform! They deliver the numbers and the results. But they are TOXIC. These employees can be mean, secretive, and/or arrogant. They are often bullies and, as such, they can become a real HR problem! They flatter and fawn with upper management and abuse and dismiss their peers and those who report to them. They can be loners, they can be moody, they can create chaos and, although they may be skilled and perform at a high level, they will erode performance and results among other team members. They will create an environment that is unhealthy and over time will force others to resign or to give up any hope of making progress or achieving their goals. And, yet these toxic employees often remain unscathed. Bosses at every level too often will sell out and go for the short-term results, choosing to ignore the behavior and negative impact. In fact, many of us have, at one time or another, looked the other way and allowed these toxic terrorists to thrive because we want results.
You will notice that the definition of ‘Tempting But Toxic’ is the longest description in this article. There is a reason for that. As managers and business owners, we have to LIVE our values and our vision. We have to walk the talk. No matter how hard we try, we can’t justify keeping the toxic employee. In the end, these employees will do significant damage to our mission, our employees, our culture, and our business. We may not be able to find and sustain an entire organization of ‘Definitely YES’ employees, but we should NEVER trade our values for a culture that promotes a ‘win at all costs’ environment. We owe it to our employees, our customers and ourselves to model our convictions and create a workplace that expects and rewards results AND integrity and honorable behavior! This is the way I see it, and it is the way I try to approach the process within my company. It is a process I feel good about and it creates a foundation for growth that based on values and provides support for employee satisfaction and business success.
Original Post: Tempting but TOXIC! What is Your Ideal Employee Profile?