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Unfortunately, toxic personalities are part of nearly every workplace, as toxic employees are often smart enough to make themselves difficult to fire.

Toxic employees don’t flagrantly break established rules. They walk the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. They might make passive-aggressive comments, gossip, take credit they don’t deserve and point the finger of blame if it means saving their own skin.

The worst part about a toxic employee is the way their behavior affects others. Some employees choose to avoid the offending employee, but others take an if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-‘em approach and adopt their own toxic habits. The result is a team of employees that are disengaged, demoralized, stressed out and more worried about navigating personalities than job duties.

An obvious approach to keeping toxic employees from impacting your team is to never hire them in the first place. This is easier said than done, however. People who turn out to be toxic employees often impress in the interview. They haven’t been called out on their toxic habits because they’ve been able to hide them effectively.

Given that one or two toxic employees are going to slip through the cracks in your hiring process, it’s important to be able to manage these folks and their behavior.

How To Deal With Tough Personalities as A Manager

1) Find the root cause

In every situation, our behavior is driven by an underlying cause. The best approach to dealing with a toxic employee is to figure out why they are acting the way they are and address that reason. For instance, they might be frustrated with their job situation or having problems at home.

Sit down with the employee and ask them if there’s anything that’s been bothering them lately. If they’re going through something personal, connect them to counseling resources and offer them emotional support in any way that you can. If the problem is a professional one, discuss possible solutions and make a plan to fix the issue.

2) Address the behavior

If having a heart-to-heart chat doesn’t help, you need to think about being more direct. Before disciplining the person for their behavior, document specific instances of their actions that have had a negative impact on productivity. Having specific work-related examples helps to drive home the idea that this isn’t a just subjective opinion or personality conflict.

When confronting the employee, talk about how their actions could be modified and what you expect from them moving forward.

3) Then Talk consequences

Once you’ve exhausted all of your positive reinforcement options, you need to start talking about consequences. If a path to termination isn’t and option, figure out what parts of the job your toxic employee likes the most – a bonus or schedule flexibility – and talk about revoking them if the behavior doesn’t change.

Are you hiring?

At Quanta, we strive to help our clients avoid or move on from toxic employees by connecting them to best-fit talent for their operations. If your company is currently looking for a talent solution, please contact us today.