EP Huddle #18
A person close to me shares stories almost daily about a person in her office who is extremely negative and not team focused. Their company is only 7 people large which means almost 15% of it is toxic, which can easily spread. This employee talks back to her superiors, doesn't help the team effort, and consistently uses the phrase "that's not how I did it in my last job". And, that last job is the only reason she's still around. The company is currently entering a new market, and leadership feels her role is needed and her experience is the only thing that will help them launch. While this may be true, it's interesting to see if they'll launch before the other 6 employees say enough is enough and leave the organization.
Dealing with toxic employees in any organization is really difficult and something that management needs to deal with immediately. Negative employees no only hurt the morale of a team and cause unneeded conflict, but they also stifle creativity, ruin employee engagement and can dramatically decrease productivity and profitability. This is even more critical in a startup.
Startups have limited number of employees. Each one is critical to the success of the business. So, there's no room for any negative influence. And, typically the staff needs to be all-systems-go for the mission of the company. If they aren't truly committed, work won't get done. And, in startups, there's typically more work to do than people to do it. So, commitment and efficiency is a must.
If you work in a startup or very small business, take inventory of your current staff. If you have anyone who's negative and potentially creating a poor work experience for your other team members, act swiftly.
You don't have time to wait for improvements and you certainly don't have the resources to spend on trying to turn a negative employee around.
** NOTE ** 3 months since this article was first published, the toxic employee in the example above has been terminated. The culture and atmosphere of negativity immediately improved. And, after only a few short weeks, the productivity of the business increased and they are exceeding their goals, while having more fun and enjoying their jobs more.
As a team:
Do you have someone on your team who is "critical" to getting your company moving but is negative and toxic at the same time? If you're concerned about letting that person go because you need them, ask yourself what you'd do if they simply quit on their own. You would have to come up with a solution to move forward. And, it's 95% likely that your solution would work out just fine... and you'd have a much happier team, better morale and a more productive company.
Consider the resources needed to take the appropriate steps when dealing with a negative employee. Make sure you have an HR department, HR employee or mentor who can walk you through the process for corrective action or termination. Also, what financial implications will occur if you don't deal with the problem? What financial implications will occur if you do? Consult your accountant and attorney.
At the end of the day though, consider the implications of what happens if you do nothing...
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