Stress: it’s making all of our lives difficult, affecting our overall health and well-being. Toxic people in the workplace are often a huge contributor to overall team stress, which can affect morale, productivity, and even talent retention rates. Toxic people can find their way into any office—and 4 out of 5 employees feel that leadership in their organizations doesn’t take enough action to reduce the impact of toxic employees in the workplace. Why is that? One reason could be that it can be a challenge to spot toxic people—there are different kinds of toxic people, and they often spur more toxic behavior around them, making it difficult to pinpoint the source. If you’re worried about toxic people in your office, here are some ways to identify the problem.
Follow the Drama
All offices have some drama, but it’s best to keep it to a minimum. Toxic people often attract and even crave drama, seeking it out and creating it whenever possible. Not only is drama distracting and stressful, it can affect the personal lives of your team and bring them unhappiness at work and at home. Drama in the office? Find the source and look for patterns—you may be surprised to learn that the same people are involved every time. Toxic people are always in crisis—and they want other people to know about their drama.
They Always Talk About Themselves
Ever meet a leader or employee who wouldn’t let you get a word in edgewise? Did they talk about themselves nonstop, and never ask any questions or listen to what you had to say? Narcissistic and toxic people often have difficulty focusing on subjects other than themselves. Listening and collaboration is a key skill for healthy team communication, and a person who can’t listen might have some qualities of a toxic person.
Nobody loves their job 100% of the time. But you know what nobody loves even more? The person who complains about hating their job 24/7. Constant complaining can have an effect on overall morale, and the people who tend to complain the most are the most likely to never be satisfied. They like to complain—about everything, and tend to be a toxic influence on the office environment.
Spot Little Lies
Most people know better than to try lying at work, but some toxic people just don’t care. If you’re noticing little lies coming up time and time again, it may be time to take a good hard look and see if you might be dealing with a toxic person.
Whether or not they’re in a leadership position, controlling people add toxicity to the office. An authoritarian boss who doesn’t want anyone else’s input, a team member who dominates every meeting and tries to direct everything—these people can have a negative effect on the team. Collaboration helps an organization grow by welcoming in new ideas and making team members feel valued. The control freak is toxic because they do the opposite of empower: they steamroll their colleagues, and view everyone else as incompetent—or in competition.
When Negativity Reigns
Negative people might seem like a benign annoyance, but they’re actually a type of toxic personality that can make other people in the office reluctant to come into work. It’s one thing to have an occasional negative outlook when something doesn’t go your way, but coworkers who complain about life or work on a daily basis can be detrimental to a productive workplace.
Dealing with Toxic People
Once you’ve identified the toxic people who are wreaking havoc on your office, what do you do about them? Toxic people can bring a company down, whether they intend to or not. Some people will just never be able to contribute to a positive and productive work environment, and unfortunately, you may have to make some tough staffing decisions for the good of the team. Eliminating toxic behavior will make a big difference in your organization. However, you should almost always make an effort to turn the toxic behavior around and help your team members grow and change rather than let them go. If that’s still not working then it’s time to make a decision: do you choose the toxic employee, or the team? That decision is pretty easy to make. Don’t be afraid to speak up and fight toxic behavior in the workplace—the business innovation, productivity, and happiness of your team depends on it.