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Toxic Workplace Series: Work Behaviors That Wreaks Havoc

As a small business owner, it is essential to understand where your power lies. Your power commences during your interview sessions. If you are looking around at your employees' poor work ethic, as a reminder, you hired them. If the issues center around one employee, then stick around; CPR has the answer. If the problem revolves around most within the group, you have a more significant problem and may need to clean house and start over. Yes, decisions, decisions, decisions.

Remember, your entry point for professional development begins with your recruitment and hiring processes. It is also essential to underscore that as a leader, you must begin the conversation by saying "no." If you are saying yes just to be liked, you are a follower and no longer a leader. With this in mind, the next few days will be dedicated to drilling down on negative behaviors, how they wreak havoc and what you can do to alter them. Today's post features the first five behaviors, including gossiping, procrastination, aggressive behavior, narcissism, and disorderliness. Let's begin.

1. Gossiping

There is a vast difference between engaging in conversation that is not associated with work and gossiping. There is no such thing as negative and positive gossip. There is nothing good about gossiping anywhere. Gossip hurts because it is frequently delivered and wrapped in falsehood to misrepresent the boring truth. Gossiping in the workplace is divisive, which creates discord between teams and garners mistrust and distraction. Gossiping is unprofessional. Thus, it does not belong in the workplace. To stomp out toxicity, eliminate gossiping. As a leader, be sure to lead by example, and you are not the one carrying the "tea." It would be best if you cultivated an environment where staff feels they can trust your judgment by feeling safe to express their thoughts. Gossip creates unnecessary tension and stress, resulting in missed deadlines. Also, be sure you do not hire a gossiper. You can quickly test the waters during the interview by making simple conversations about news, headlines, and buzz reports. Your candidate will demonstrate whether they have the propensity to gossip by simply taking in their verbal and non-verbal responses. Hence the goal of adopting a wait-and-see approach to your leadership techniques.

2. Procrastination

At some point, everyone has postponed their work for the next day; however, when it becomes chronic, it can prove costly. Again, this can be easily detected during the interview process by simply monitoring how your candidate adheres to your deadlines as a prospective employee. In an era where telecommuting is the go-to venue, you must also identify someone who can manage their time independently. If you have someone on your team that procrastinates, meet with the person, it may not be procrastination but analysis paralysis, in which there is a solution. A procrastinator delays everything professionally and personally. If it's affecting your progress, then you have to make a decision. First, have a conversation. This person can be salvaged when considering other traits.

3. Aggressive behavior

Employees with aggressive behavior should have been screened out during the interview process; however, if you missed it, then be sure to have your policies in line with the Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance Federal guidelines. Some individuals may display less aggressive behavior in your presence and act differently with the team. If that is the case, listen to your good employees, monitor, take action, and nip it in the bud. Be sure to document your notes when conducting your counseling sessions. Maintaining documentation and contemporaneous notes will save your organization a lot of time, energy, and $$ in the event of a lawsuit. Furthermore, an aggressive employee typically points the finger. This classic blame game is best handled with accountability and responsibility throughout your organization. This must be consistent with every employee.

4. Narcissism

A narcissistic toxic worker is usually a great performer but doesn’t believe in teamwork.

Their main motive is to look good and be seen as the best, even if it’s at the cost of their teammate’s efforts. Narcissists prefer to work independently, constantly demotivate their co-workers, and keep interfering in other employees’ projects. A few common characteristics of a narcissist are:

  • Take credit and also point the finger.

  • An exaggerated sense of self-worth.

  • The constant need for attention.

  • Takes advantage of others to further their ends.

  • Lacks empathy.

According to the 2021article of "Power of Positivity," narcissists don’t like to be criticized. The first recommendation is to render constructive feedback outside a group setting. Narcissists also exaggerate a situation, so be in tune with your day-to-day operations. As a leader, be sure to render timely feedback and make time to conduct your quarterly, semi-annual, and annual evaluations, applying metrics that matter most within your organization.

5. Disorderliness

Disorganization causes delays. Employees with poor organizational skills cannot multi-task in a fast-paced setting. As a small business owner, it may also require the person to wear multiple hats, so be diligent during the interview process. If the employee possesses excellent skill sets, then work with the employee, be patient and support the employee with constructive feedback. Assist with time management techniques or insist the employee attend the many free, local, virtual training available for small businesses.

Suffice it to say; that toxic work behavior wreaks havoc within any environment. A leader has many options: including feedback, follow-up, probation, and ultimately cutting ties. Not every negative behavior requires termination; however, as a small business owner, you must be able to give enough time for the employee to evolve. If there is no change, then you act accordingly. This is what any good leader would do.

Warm Regards,


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