Toxic Employees In #Retail
The New Year is synonymous with change and a fresh start both personally & professionally. In several of my previous posts I mention separating ones self from negative influences in your professional life. Working to align yourself with people that will make you better, support your growth, inspire positive results and productivity…that is fundamental for your personal brand and professional reputation.
What, exactly, is a toxic employee in retail?
A toxic employee is someone who deliberately inflicts harm to a company’s morale and productivity through intentionally subversive behavior. According to a recently published Harvard study, “The data suggests that toxic people drive other employees to leave an organization faster and more frequently, which generates huge turnover and training costs, and they diminish the productivity of everyone around them.” They drive out your productive, valuable workers!
Their subversive behavior manifests itself in several ways. Here are some examples of toxic employees and co-workers.
(1) The Know-It-All
(2) The Yenta
(3) Debby Downer
(4) The Jerry Springer Guest
(5) The Victim
(6) The Person Whose Life Is More Important Than Yours
(7) The Tattle-tale
(8) The Me Monster
And if you mix two or more of these qualities together in a single person – oy vey…they are impossible.
If you have the time and inclination to read the entirety of this truly fascinating report here is the link to the Harvard Business School Study: Toxic Workers. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:
–“While a top 1 percent worker might return $5,303 in cost savings to a company through increased output, avoiding a toxic hire will net an estimated $12,489, the study said. That figure does not include savings from sidestepping litigation, regulatory penalties, or decreased productivity as a result of low morale.”
–“Who is most likely to be a toxic worker? The research shows three key predictors. First, whether a person has a very high level of “self-regard” or selfishness. Because if such people don’t care about others, they’re not going to worry about how their behavior or attitude affects co-workers. Second, feeling overconfident, which can lead to undue risk-taking. “Imagine you’re going to engage in some misconduct and steal something from your company. If you think the chance that you’re going to get away with it is much greater than it really is, … you’re more likely to engage in that conduct,” said Minor. And lastly, if a person states emphatically that the rules should always be followed no matter what, watch out.
-The saddest sentence in the study: “Finally, in the field of linguistics, it has been found that humans preferentially attend to negative words over positive or neutral ones”
-The runner up: “Workers with increased exposure to other toxic workers are more likely to be toxic.”
-One of the most interesting findings (in my opinion): “although toxic workers are quicker than the average worker, they are not necessarily more productive in a quality-adjusted sense. In the long run, these kinds of workers are not likely to improve overall organizational performance.”
–“Avoiding a toxic worker (or converting them to an average worker) provides more benefit than finding and retaining a superstar”
–“We find that though Self-regarding workers are no different in terms of productivity (i.e., the speed of their work), they are more likely to produce lower quality work: coeffcient estimates are negative at the 10% level. Since these workers are also more likely to be terminated for toxic behavior, there is no apparent tradeoff when choosing not to hire Self-regarding workers”
–“Consider hiring workers that claim sometimes the rules need to be broken. Although these workers are no different in terms of productivity, they tend to produce higher quality work.”
–“It seems clear that toxic workers originate both as a function of preexisting characteristics and of the environment in which they work.”
–“This performance finding suggests that toxic workers are similar to what Jack Welch described as “Type 4” workers to those who deliver on the numbers but do not have the right values. Welch claimed that while difficult to do, it was critical to remove such workers: “People are removed for having the wrong values…we don’t even talk about the numbers.”
In retail, I have never found that the above referenced toxic personalities were beneficial to an organization. They take focus away from business matters. They implicate others as part of their incendiary behavior, with a level of joy.
In a previous post I have covered the topic of Managing Conflict In #Retail. Here are some statistics that are very relevant to the topic of “Toxic Workers”:
Here are some other pretty staggering statistics:
So – why do we protect these employees and their behavior? They are toxic to their coworkers and they are toxic to the culture. They are extremely harmful and, as stated in the study, can compel average workers to become toxic workers. [Sounds like a zombie apocalypse scenario] . That is a terrifying thought.
So – how do we fix this?
There are a couple of things that can be done to lessen the risk of bringing in a toxic worker into your organization/department/store:
(A) Ask the right questions during the hiring process around:
(B) Cover, in detail, your zero-tolerance policies with your candidates as they relate to your Company Values and Company Vision/Mission:
(C) Deal with the problem
(D) Support a Workplace Culture that is conducive with positive peer interactions and recognition
(E) If you are a peer of one of these “toxic” workers:
In our industry we come in contact with toxic coworkers daily but how we interact with them will define our reputation. Resist aligning yourself with them, they are frequently charismatic and persuasive, but if they don’t inspire you or support you in improving your results or teamwork initiatives – it behooves you to keep your interactions civil but brief.
If you’re a leader – it will benefit you to react quickly to these negative influences. We need to commit, as leaders, to hiring people who are propitious to the organization and if a bad apple gets hired into the company (which will happen) that there is a plan-of-action that supports either assisting these toxic employees to improve their behavior, quickly, or supports a plan to exit them from the business. Focus on keeping your valuable and engaged employees happy, productive, and growing.
When your organization acts in accordance with the Company established Values and Vision, you commit to your employees and to your customer to deliver a workplace culture that is consistent with those standards. Allowing toxic workers to infiltrate and poison that culture is deleterious and detrimental to a workplace and can cause confusion and chaos [creating a Dysfunctional #Retail Workplace]. It also can decrease productivity and profitability. Choosing to support the Company Values and Vision will support the high-performance and high-potential employees growth and job satisfaction and show that a company has conviction and consistently acts in accordance with it’s business principles.