talented but toxic – what to do with an employee in this camp

April 25th 2019

I think most people would agree it’s easier to avoid issues than confront them, but often that serves to prolong the inevitable – the tough conversation has to happen eventually. And the longer an issue goes on, the harder it is to address.

A toxic employee has to be called out, regardless of whether or not they’re talented.  In fact, some would argue that more talented the employee, the more they should be held to account in exhibiting the right behaviours because they could be looked up to by others in the organisation who then copy what they see.

Regardless of how tricky the conversation may be, it has to happen.

Here’s some advice on how to get underway:

  1. identify the specific behaviours that are toxic – be clear on what you’d like to see instead
  2. arrange a meeting to discuss the issues
  3. be direct. Ambiguity in an attempt to soften the blow will only cause confusion and misunderstanding. If you feel the issue is serious enough to confront, then be confident in raising it with the employee.
  4. keep an open mind. You want to understand the underlying cause of the behaviour so you can agree strategies to help improve it.
  5. develop an action plan
  6. keep your foot on the pedal – there is no point in having the tough conversation and then ticking that off and never revisiting it. Keep feedback flowing to the employee.

You need people who have the company’s and their colleagues’ best intentions at heart, and hopefully, through adopting a fair, open and communicative process, you’ll see improvement in the behaviour.


Category: behavioural management, communication

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