7 types of toxic employee behaviours and how to handle them as a leader

Addressing toxic behaviours in the workplace requires proactive leadership and a commitment to fostering a culture of respect, collaboration, and accountability. By recognising the signs of toxicity and implementing appropriate strategies, leaders can create an environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and empowered to succeed.

Sarah Korba
Feb 09, 2024
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Within the discourse surrounding toxic leadership and corporate culture, lies a crucial yet often overlooked facet: the behaviours of individual employees that can poison the working environment. While much attention is placed on addressing toxic leadership, the actions of individual employees can also have a significant impact on the work environment. As managers, or team leaders, it’s imperative to recognise and confront these behaviours in order to promote a healthy workplace culture where everyone thrives. In this article, we look at 7 types of toxic employee behaviours and give practical tips on how you can deal with them as a team leader.

7 Types of toxic employee behaviours and how to deal with them as a leader: Download the infographic

1. Steamrolling: crushing conversations, dwindling voices

Picture this: you’re in a team meeting, bursting with ideas, only to be bulldozed by a colleague who dominates the conversation. Steamrolling, the act of overshadowing others and dismissing their contributions, can stifle creativity and lead to resentment. As a leader, creating an environment of inclusivity is crucial. Schedule regular team meetings where everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts, and actively listen to different perspectives. Address instances of steamrolling privately, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and respect for all team members.

Tip: Consider implementing a rotating speaking order during meetings to ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute without being interrupted.

2. Subtle sniping: the poisonous sting of passive aggressiveness

Ever encountered a colleague who speaks in veiled jabs and snarky remarks? Subtle sniping, characterised by passive-aggressive behaviour, can undermine trust and create a toxic atmosphere. Encourage open communication within your team by encouraging members to raise concerns directly and constructively. Use anonymous surveys to gather honest feedback, then take actionable steps to address the underlying issues. By promoting transparency and honesty, you can dismantle the barriers to effective collaboration.

Tip: Organise team-building activities or workshops that focus on improving communication and conflict resolution skills.

3. Perpetual pessimism: drowning in a sea of negativity

Constant complaining and gloomy outlooks can cast a dark shadow over the workplace, draining morale and hampering productivity. As a leader, it’s important to understand the root causes of negativity within your team. Regular check-ins allow you to empathise with your team members’ challenges and support them when needed. If complaints persist, collaborate with your team to identify solutions and cultivate a more positive work environment.

Tip: Start team meetings on a positive note by sharing recent successes or thanking your team members for their contributions.

 7 Types of toxic employee behaviours and how to deal with them as a leader: Download the infographic

4. Knowledge keeping: the barrier to collaboration

Hoarding information like a dragon guarding its treasure can impede collaboration and innovation. Knowledge keeping, the act of withholding information, undermines teamwork and stifles growth. Implementing knowledge-sharing platforms and acknowledging contributors encourages information sharing and a culture of collaboration. Emphasise the collective success of the team over individual achievements, encouraging team members to contribute their expertise for the greater good.

Tip: Establish regular knowledge-sharing workshops where team members can showcase their expertise and share best practices. This not only encourages information exchange but also creates a platform for recognising individual contributions within the context of team success.

5. Egotistical expertise: pride before progress

Admitting mistakes and striving for growth are essential components of personal and professional development. However, egotistical expertise, characterised by an unwillingness to admit shortcomings and excessive pride, can hinder progress. Lead by example and show humility and openness to feedback. Encourage self-reflection and provide constructive feedback to help team members recognise where they can improve. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth, you can empower your team to reach new heights.

Tip: Implement regular “lessons learned” sessions where team members can openly discuss challenges, share their experiences, and collectively identify strategies for improvement. This not only promotes a culture of continuous learning, but also reinforces the idea that growth is a shared journey.

6. Office whispers: the venomous spread of gossip

Gossip, like a virus, spreads rapidly, infecting the workplace with distrust and toxicity. Office whispers, characterised by gossiping and two-faced interactions, erode morale and damage relationships. Establish clear ground rules that allow zero tolerance for gossip and uphold the values of trust and integrity. Set a good example by not engaging in gossip yourself and addressing any instances of gossip immediately and directly.

Tip: Organise regular team-building activities and social events where colleagues can interact in a relaxed environment. Building strong personal relationships between team members can help mitigate the urge to engage in gossip and foster a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.

 7 Types of toxic employee behaviours and how to deal with them as a leader: Download the infographic

7. Slacking off: the drain on productivity

Consistent underperformance and lack of accountability can drag down the entire team. Slacking off, whether through procrastination or excuses, undermines morale and jeopardises success. Have one-on-one conversations with underperforming team members to understand the underlying issues and offer support where needed. Set clear, achievable goals, and track progress together to keep everyone accountable. By fostering a culture of accountability and support, you can empower your team to overcome challenges and achieve their full potential.

Tip: Give your team members regular feedback and recognition for their accomplishments to motivate them and reinforce desired behaviours.

In conclusion, addressing toxic behaviours in the workplace requires proactive leadership and a commitment to fostering a culture of respect, collaboration, and accountability. By recognising the signs of toxicity and implementing appropriate strategies, leaders can create an environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and empowered to succeed. Want to learn more about how to create a thriving workplace? Get in touch with us at [email protected] or book a demo at www.kyanhealth.com/book-a-demo

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