Dealing with toxic people

At a recent leadership talk Glen Daley raised the subject of corporate values. I define values in this instance as the standards that guide the way those with in the company transact their business. In an ideal world they are immutable, never changing despite pressure to do so.

It does not always work out though. External circumstances can force the senior management to flex to survive or adapt to changes in circumstances not envisioned when they codified their values. They are a set of guiding principles, not rigid, unyielding laws to obey.

One value component that I imagine would most include in their values sets would concern staff – the way they view and treat their staff or the team. Words to the effect of – we will treat our staff with respect, kindness, empathetically, honestly… You get the picture.

These values then define or contribute to the culture of the organisation, the way things do things. They reach a balance between the primary business goals of making money, generating profits, and maximising stakeholder value and looking after the staff, customers, suppliers all within the legal frameworks of HR and quality compliance.

What happens then if there is one or more individuals within the team that do not subscribe to the company’s culture. They prefer to run their area of the business as they see fit regardless of the impact on the others around them and the reputation of the business.

A simple solution would be to make their behaviours known to them, put in place a development plan and guide them back to behaviours that align with the culture. If they do not make the necessary changes then it is time to move them on. Painful, but worthwhile.

Here is the rub. What happens if an individual always hits their numbers? By numbers I mean they achieve the hard business goals or hit their KPIs. Always in the top tier of performance. Outperforming their peers. Winning awards for performance even.

Impressive you might think. But they create turbulence as a result, huge bow waves of turbulence that impact all around them. The key point here for senior managers or business owners is that the team are looking to their business leaders or owners to act. Failure to act is seen as weakness!

Examples of turbulence as follows:

  1. Staff turnover is higher than other sites – but they hit their numbers.
  2. Customer complaints are higher – but they hit their numbers.
  3. Their sites are no go areas for other members of the team – but they hit their numbers.
  4. Responses and replies for information are ignore – but they hit their numbers.

Does this resonate with you?

Fill in other examples that you have experienced of turbulence that they create, all the while hitting their numbers. The pressure is on to make them change but…
Another word for turbulence is toxicity. These people are toxic.
By now you will have in your mind someone that fits that bill right now or someone you have known in the past.

What to do?

There is only one solution. Get them out now or as soon as is possible. Overcome the fear of the perceived repercussions. Do not worry that they might fight back. Take quick, decisive action within the legal framework. Do not delay. It never gets better.

Call me if you want to talk this through or have an experience that you want to get off your chest…

Thought for the day – Be change that you want to see in others.