Danger, Danger! Toxic Employees

Mar 29, 2016 | Practice Management, Uncategorized

“Success is about hard work, smart thinking, and a team that’s passionate. ” David DiBenedetto

But what happens when the team is not passionate, or worse working against you?

Staff people bicker or ignore one another. They gossip about other team members or you, the boss. They gather in small gaggles and whisper rumors and innuendo. When you walk by all eyes turn your way and they stop talking. They come to work at the last minute, and leave at the stroke of 5 or earlier. Finger pointing. Low morale. Drama. Missed deadlines. Unfinished work stays undone day after day. The bottom line suffers.

You know something is wrong, but it’s easier to hope it will get better than to confront the problem. Re-staffing is a major headache, but is it worse than your sleepless nights, headaches, or constant upset stomach?

This is a toxic workplace and it hurts everyone including your patients.

How Do You Handle It?
Although you do your best to create an atmosphere of safety and trust, sometimes problem people will creep into your team.

Uncovering and coping with a toxic employee requires preparation and consistency.
An employee manual with clear performance and behavioral policies is the first step to protect your business. It will guide you through the disciplinary, rehabilitation or termination process as needed.
Define expected behavior. Attitude. Cooperation. Collaboration. Customer service. Teamwork. Personal accountability.

To put the toxic employee in line, start with a tough talk. Be crystal clear about the behaviors that must stop immediately and those that must start. If you are lucky, a redirect may be enough to straighten out the employee but often this is not enough.

  • Watch interactions carefully and document behaviors, attitudes and work performance over time.
  • Review your recruitment and training policies to make sure that behavior is included as a major part of job performance.
  • Conduct regular performance evaluations on all levels and review behavior as part of the process.
  • Make everyone as accountable for behavior as specific job tasks.

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to terminate the toxic employees. The worst thing that you can do is ignore the behavior because it is contagious and will spread through your practice faster than Ebola, infecting everyone in its path. Unchecked it could kill your practice.

Additional Resources: Join The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). For $95 per year you have access to sample employee manuals, surveys, recruitment, legal and legislative issues.

Download a free sample employee handbook from the National Foundation of Independent Business (NFIB). Revise it to fit your particular needs and have your attorney review it before implementing it.