Danger SignCaution:  Hazardous/Toxic Behaviors Ahead

Individual personalities are a large part of the dynamic within a workplace.  Unfortunately, personalities may be hard to read while the interview process and sometimes, an individual’s true personality shines through after beginning work as an employee.  Research has shown that most hiring failures come from poor culture fit rather than a lack of skill or knowledge of the job.

You can try to avoid a clash of personalities at your workplace, but it is probably bound to happen at some point.  Every workplace has employees with many different personalities, which can determine the overall success of a company.  As the saying goes, “one bad apple can spoil the bunch” and an employee with a toxic attitude in the work environment can spoil the productivity, teamwork and morale all around.

There are the “Negative Naysayer’s” who are constantly negative, nearly impossible to motivate and unfortunately bring upbeat co-workers down by crushing the positive energy. The “Blamers” are those who never take responsibility for their own actions and the “Drama Kings & Queens” who make every situation an emotional crisis.  Although it is hard to determine these traits in an interview, managers can handle the problems related to them.

Negative Naysayers

“Negative Naysayers” don’t see success as a possibility and display pessimistic, angry and uncooperative behavior.

The worst thing about these individuals is that their fellow employees change their work environment and attitude to suit the negative person.  This leads to potentially damaging the majority of those who have a positive outlook on the company.  Managers should address this behavior before this behavior becomes too contagious.  Be conscious of their negative mind-set and do not get drawn into their doom.  The ESC HR team recommends having a positive outlook while addressing a negative employee, but also being honest and direct because any negative or angry attitude will only increase the employee’s negativity.  Often times asking the employee to address their problems and acknowledging their contentions can change their outlook on the situation.

The Blamer

Working with a “blamer” makes other employees feel as though they are always on the defense.  Co-workers tend to be fearful that they may be the next victim of blame. In turn, they spend more time covering themselves than perfecting a project.  We recommend managers lead by example. Express that mistakes are OK. Create an environment where their employees feel comfortable admitting to a mistake before a small mistake becomes a large one.  All mistakes can become a lesson to learn from and eliminating the fear of making a mistake, as well as practicing accountability, can help eliminate the “blamer” from your work culture.

Drama Kings and Queens

Working with a “Drama King or Queen” can make work feel like a theatrical show.  They invite everyone in to be their audience.  The drama-filled employee reacts emotionally to every situation whether its work related or a personal crisis.  Working side-by-side with an emotional drama star allows for little success because they are always looking for attention.  When addressing issues with a “Drama Queen/King” managers should be as objective as possible. Focus on the facts, and not react as emotionally as the employee.

Often times, management does not address these toxic behaviors.  Leaders may avoid dealing with attitudes because they are busy with the day-to-day operations of the job. They may be uncomfortable with the confrontation of handling the issues or they are unaware of the behavior occurring.  Having an “open-door” policy with employees offers them the ability to share any important information with you regarding their department, co-workers and organization.  Whenever you are presented with an issue occurring, address the situation with the employee. Lay out all the consequences of their actions and express the importance of a change in behavior.  And as always, document!  Add the meeting notes to the employee’s file in case further actions needs to be taken.  And as always, if you are an ESC client, call your HR consultant for assistance.