Toxic employees can be harmful and destroy almost anyone or anything they come in contact with. But did you ever consider that you could be a toxic person yourself? Probably not – after all, you’re the boss and you’ve worked hard to build a successful organisation. So how could you be?
Well, you can. Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean you’re exempt from causing problems. And your employees aren’t immune from imitating your problematic behaviours and attitudes. If your actions or thoughts are negative and counterproductive to success, then you’ve created a standard, a norm and a model for others to replicate.
And neither you nor your employees are immune from the virus-like spread of these attitudes. Soon the work environment becomes toxic, with productivity, profits and morale all decreasing.
So what’s the cure?
- Being aware of the problem is the first step towards resolving it.
- Identify the symptoms.
- Get objective feedback by confiding in a trusted friend, business coach or fellow business owner who can provide you with honest information on your behaviour without fear of reprisal.
- Identify which part of what you do is really the issue. Are you verbally abusive? Are you impatient? Are you more negative with certain people? Do you believe that people shouldn’t need support or encouragement from you? Do you avoid interacting with certain employees? Do you provide more negative feedback than positive feedback?
Here are a few steps you can take to resolve the problem:
- Discuss with your confidante which behaviours or attitudes seem to be at issue.
- State why you want to change or modify these behaviours.
- Identify ways or methods you can begin to transform the challenging areas.
- Set up a realistic time-frame to achieve your goals.
- Ascertain ways to evaluate your progress and know when you’ve succeeded in implementing new behaviours and attitudes.
- Be sure to reward yourself for your progress. This will increase the probability that you’ll repeat these positive behaviours
It’s also important to identify a person with whom you’ve had difficulties. Once you’re on the path to recovery and have interacted with them again, ask them for their perception of this latest contact. Find out how they perceived the “new you”. Encourage them to be honest and thank them for the feedback. You’ll gain in stature with this person simply by requesting the information and then responding in a positive manner. You’ll be modelling for that employee a positive behaviour that hopefully they’ll use with others. Then you can truly begin the process of detoxifying.
The Signs of Toxicity
Often, the signs of toxicity are obvious to others but not to you. They include: