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How to get rid of a toxic employee

Jan 7, 2014 @ 9:03 am

By Matthew Halloran

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As a coach, I do a lot of onsite consultations and staff analysis. This is a double-edged sword because most advisers get nervous about bringing me in because they're afraid that they're potentially going to have to fire somebody because, as most of you know, there might be at least one person on your team who isn't really the right person.

I just got back from a trip with one of my clients during which I found that one of her longstanding employees truly wasn't a team player and is potentially toxic and undermining her.

So, what should we do?

We all know how difficult it is to hire and train people in our industry because the learning curve is so steep, but you have to be willing to take that risk, especially when you have a toxic employee.

One toxic person can ruin a team. One toxic person can undermine your production. One toxic person can make it so that you don't want to come into the office because you don't want to have to deal with him or her.

Remember: This is your practice, and you have to take control of your team. I don't care why the person's toxic. I don't care if it's because you haven't trained them well. I don't care if they're having personal or professional issues in their life. They cannot bring it to work.

It is not part of what the culture needs to be, and they need to reduce their toxicity or they're gone.

Here's what to do: Don't just walk in and fire them. (Well you can in most states, but you probably should not.) You need to give them a chance. You have to inform them of their toxicity.

You can do this in a couple of ways.

1. Sit down and meet with them and explain what you're seeing and how they can correct their behavior.

2. If they do not change their behavior or fix the problems, the next step is a formalized letter of warning. The letter, which you can get copies of off just about any HR website online, is going to be your next formalized step. It will explain that you asked the employee to correct certain actions and they did not follow through and, in order to maintain employment, they need to make changes within the next 30 to 60 days or they will be terminated, and here are the terms of termination.

3. If they do not fix the issues in the time frame you set out and they agreed to, fire them.

You have to get rid of toxic employees. I can't stress enough how important it is and how much your culture will change when that one person is gone. Bring in a consultant to do the analysis or onsite consult. There are a lot of great professional out there that can conduct in-depth personality interview of each of your employees, especially if you think there's somebody who's toxic. Wait and see the result of the consultation and then make your decisions.

But you know as well as I do, you don't need hire a coach or a consultant. You know in your heart who's toxic and who's not. If you have a toxic employee, give yourself a gift for the New Year and get rid of them.

Give them the gift of freedom because if they're that toxic, they're not happy where they're at, and they will probably be better off working for somebody else.

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