What Do I Do with a Toxic Employee?

  • Explosions of anger or rage
  • Sexual harassment
  • Vengeful
  • Putting others down: Backstabbing, slander, gossip, name-calling
  • Easily offended: Others walk on eggshells around them
  • Carries grudges: Won’t let go of offenses. Even if others have tried to make amends
  • Perpetual drama: Something (often legitimate) is always going wrong
  • Doesn’t accept responsibility
  • Lies or acts deceptively
  • Demands attention or credit. May create drama to get it. May act to harm those who they feel received it instead of them
  • Present themselves well
  • Can be smart and friendly
  • Can be hard workers
  • Can provide value — even excel — in a certain area
  • Don’t intend to create harm
  • Co-workers
  • Organizational goals and performance
  • Partners and vendors
  • You as a leader
  • Fill in the blanks
  1. Take action: As the leader, you are responsible. Commit to creating a “non-toxic” environment.
  2. Directly address the person:
  • Talk to the person directly and (usually) privately.
  • Identify a specific behavior that needs to change. Be as specific and objective as possible.
  • Describe the current impact of their behavior. Let them know how it is experienced by others or the organization.
  • Specifically, describe the change you want to see.
  • Provide a tight timeline for change.
  • Offer help (as long as the help isn’t taking responsibility off their shoulders).
  • Immediate effort to change the behavior
  • Actual, sustained change in behavior
  • Ownership and a sense of responsibility
  • Elimination of the toxic effects



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Christian Muntean

Christian Muntean


I help successful leaders and teams dramatically improve their performance. Guaranteed.