One Toxic Staff Member

Have you ever noticed times when you and the rest of the team start off the morning happy and energetic and then someone comes in last and the mood and energy of the rest of the team goes down? If it is always the same person creating that effect, this may be a sign that you have a toxic staff member.

A single toxic team member can, by their actions and words, negatively impact the productivity and profitability of the whole practice. In some instances, they may even cause internal issues for the entire team and can ruin the work experience for everyone else which could result in good staff resigning.

Common Characteristics:

Toxic employees are typically overconfident, have self-centered attitudes, and are rule breakers. They tend not to cooperate with others or respect their co-workers because they’re always looking out for number one, which can make them difficult people in the practice where teamwork is needed most often.

A toxic team member tends to complain a lot, gossip and blame others for their own mistakes. It’s also common for them to repeatedly report their team members, which they may be doing simply out of spite.

Although working with a toxic team member can be challenging, it’s important to realize that their negative behaviour can be the result of emotional issues or personal life difficulties that the toxic person is handling.

Toxic employees don’t have to be malicious, but they’re people who make your workplace worse, losing you value and hurting the people around them. If you make the wrong hire and you’ve already got a toxic person on staff, the best thing to do is to immediately take action before things get any worse.

Steps for managing toxic employees:

Learning to deal with negativity in the workplace is one of the key challenges for you as a practice owner. Here are some suggestions for dealing with this team member:

1. Don’t take their behaviour personally
When you encounter a toxic team member, remember that their actions probably have nothing to do with you. Look at them more objectively and treat them with more compassion. In some instances, showing you care about their well-being and don’t consider what they do offensive can make a negative colleague trust you and openly discuss their negativity.

2. Document toxic behaviour
Before you approach a toxic team member to discuss their behaviour, it’s necessary to gather evidence that shows their offensive or negative behaviour. When instances of toxicity are observed, make notes for the employee’s file with what was said or done and the date.

3. Give them honest and direct feedback
As the practice owner, one of your tools for disciplining team members includes one-on-one reviews. After identifying whose toxic behaviour negatively impacts the team’s performance and trying to discover the root of the problem, it’s often helpful to schedule a meeting with that person and give them honest feedback. In some situations, a toxic employee may not be aware of the impact their words and behaviour have on others. Explaining it to them and requesting they start thinking of others when expressing their negative emotions is essential.

4. Interacting with a toxic team member requires you to stay respectful and objective, even if their actions impact you personally. Remember, as the practice owner, it’s appropriate for you to encourage a culture of understanding and compassion. Never bring it up in front of the entire team. Whenever you interact with a toxic team member, remember to treat them with respect, just like in any other interaction you have at work.

Bottom Line:

Before you shoot from the hip and label a specific individual in your practice as toxic, take the above steps carefully. It may take the lightest of touches to turn someone around on this behaviour. Try that first.

Hope this helps!


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