How to Deal with Toxic Employees
What’s your definition of a toxic employee? Is it someone that:
- Interferes with teamwork and collaboration?
- Sabotages the success of the team or individual team members?
- Demoralizes the rest of the team due to their behavior or attitude?
- Has damaged good relationships with some of your vendors or customers?
- Has ultimately proven not to be a good fit for your company culture?
Prior to launching my MSP practice and early in my career in Enterprise IT, I had to work with a few toxic individuals and learned firsthand how much real, lasting damage they can cause to an organization if left unchecked. I’ve witnessed good great staff and customers leave because of toxic employees. I’ve also seen leadership fail to deal with toxic employees fast enough before lasting damage had been done.
In my coaching and consulting work with MSPs over the last 15 years, I’ve found that some of them fear the risk of losing talented staff to such an extent that they overlook, discount, or even ignore toxicity or toxic behavior within their organizations. And faced with the Great Resignation, today’s MSP business owners are doing everything they can to try to keep the staff that they have because they are so difficult and costly to replace. This additional pressure may influence them to consider delaying addressing any of their own toxic employee situations. The irony here is that failing to deal with toxic employees can actually accelerate the exit of good or even great employees and customers – I’ve seen it happen all too often.
So what can you do?
1. Avoid Hiring Potentially Toxic Employees In The First Place
Review your hiring process to ensure you not only have applicants complete your application, interview, and skills-based testing exercises, but you conduct background checks and actually speak with every one of their references for specific feedback about their performance and character – here’s a good reference check questionnaire guideline. Once this has been done and you have a short list of top candidates for a position, I strongly recommend having them complete a behavioral assessment to identify how they behave in a work environment, and what motivates them to perform. Added to your hiring process, this simple instrument will provide the insight you need to help make the best hiring decision and ensure your candidate’s behaviors align closely with the requirements of the position they are applying for, and your comp, incentive, and rewards plans will be effective in motivating them to strive for the highest performance.
As a plus, these instruments, when used properly and regularly with your entire team help you understand each individual’s behavior and motivators and how to communicate and work best with them, and when shared with the entire team and used in team-building exercises, help dramatically improve teamwork and collaboration, performance, communication, and overall staff satisfaction.
2. Identify Toxic Red Flags In The Workplace And Address Them Early
I always tell my clients that to achieve positive business transformation we need to work on the “Four P’s“: people, platforms, processes, and products (and services) – and the people part of the strategy is always the most challenging. It requires more time, energy, and effort to hire, cultivate, and really manage lead a team. As people are the most valuable part of a business, your entire business’s potential is based on how well you coach and lead them. In fact, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend John Maxwell’s The 5 Levels of Leadership – it’s an amazing book whose concepts I use and recommend to all my clients to help make us all better leaders and build better leaders within our teams.
Good leadership requires listening to our teams, coaching, and mentoring. If you do that consistently and successfully, you’ll be better able to identify any early warning signs of toxicity in an individual and better prepared to address it with them early on. Have open, candid conversations during your dedicated coaching and mentoring sessions and opportunities with your staff to explore their needs and help them plan their future with your company. And agree to shared accountability – the things that they will commit to doing, as well as the things you will commit to them to do for mutual success.
Consider conducting “performance reviews” with your staff more often than yearly. I find that doing a “Leadership and Accountability” session quarterly really helps guide an employee towards success and allows regular, scheduled touchpoints to provide candid, objective feedback on how they are doing in areas of performance, teamwork, and leadership, and allows them the opportunity to adjust more rapidly and effectively to your suggestions. If a toxic employee responds well to your outreach and improves their behavior, you can build on that to everyone’s benefit including them, the team, your customers, and you.
3. Realize That Not Everyone May Change… And Take Action
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have done everything you can to effect positive behavioral change in a toxic employee and they have failed to do so within an agreed-upon timeframe, a rapid exit is indicated – not a transfer to another role or team within your organization. Your remaining staff and potentially your customers and vendors will recognize and appreciate your decisive action to remove such a detrimental influence and I’ll bet you’ll not only hear it from them, but you’ll recognize an improved mood and morale from your team.
If you’d like to learn more about my DISC Behavioral Assessments for Hiring and Team-Building, and the services I provide MSPs in this area click the button below
You’re Configuring and Managing Your Data All Wrong – And How to Fix It!
Thursday, June 23 @ 9am PT / 12pm ET
When was the last time you really analyzed your clients’ data backup configurations from each local endpoint and cloud platform to your managed data stores? And how often do you test and demonstrate your ability to restore your clients’ data or business continuity in case of data loss or a ransomware attack for your peace of mind, as well as theirs?
In today’s high-risk, litigious business environment, it’s more important than ever to reduce your clients’ risks and your own.
As an MSP, your business risk is much greater now from lawsuits brought on behalf of attorneys and insurance companies representing the clients you serve than it has ever been.
This webinar focuses squarely on the technical strategies and actions you should consider in analyzing and modifying your overall data backup strategy. From planning to configuration, monitoring, testing, storing, and reporting to confirm your ability to maintain your clients’ business continuity and quickly restore it in case of a data loss or ransomware incident.
Attend this practical session and learn how to add more strategic value to your client relationships with a rock-solid data protection strategy.
This must-attend session is for technical leaders and teams.
It will include specific strategies and how-tos that you can implement immediately to evaluate and improve your clients’ data loss prevention strategies and mitigate your shared risk.
During this session we will:
- Reveal why you must adjust your data backup strategy to meet today’s most significant threats to your clients and to you
- Share different backup strategies to address the most typical data loss prevention scenarios you’re likely to encounter
- Introduce how to use enhanced data backup services to maintain compliance with cyber liability insurance policy requirements
- Discuss how to grow lifetime strategic value with clients by properly positioning and reviewing data protection strategies and outcomes with them
BONUS: All attendees to this must-attend technical Webinar will receive a $25 coupon code to apply towards any of my downloadable MSP Mastered® business transformation forms, tools, agreements, calculators, books or other assets!
The MSP Happy Hour™
MRR & Patch Mgmt Piña Colada Edition!
Thursday, June 23 @ 2pm PT / 5pm ET
If you haven’t attended an MSP Happy Hour™ yet, you’re missing out big time!
Another great prize! – Mary
Great event! – Coleman
Another great Happy Hour! – Michael
Join me and my MSP friends, colleagues, and special guests for our next MSP Happy Hour™ event!
This new event is meant to give us all an opportunity to have a little fun, a few laughs, and blow off some steam as we get to know each other better over a themed cocktail (or mocktail) – and learn new things!
We’ll keep the conversation light, and humorous and have special drawings and giveaways for attendees, so register now and let’s have a great Happy Hour together!
WE’RE GIVING AWAY $2,500 IN PRIZES!
After registering, you’ll get an email with a short, funny video on how to mix this drink, an ingredients list, and instructions to make alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of our signature cocktail. Get your shopping done before Happy Hour, and we’ll toast together as we socialize together, play fun games for prizes and chat RMM and Patch Management!
Erick Simpson built and sold one of the very first MSPs in the industry and co-founded MSP University, where he grew and coached a channel of 30,000 IT Solution Providers through their MSP transformation. He is the creator of the MSP Mastered® Methodology for business performance improvement that has been licensed by numerous IT channel distributors and vendors. Erick is a technology business & channel growth expert, influencer, thought leader, speaker and author with 4 best-selling books and 50 white papers to his credit, and he co-hosts the ChannelPro 5 Minute Roundup Podcast. He builds channel improvement programs for IT distributors and vendors and his consultations help IT organizations overcome business challenges to realize rapid, profitable growth. Erick’s industry recognition includes Channel Futures’ 7 Thought Leaders Defining the MSP Market, Jay McBain’s 100 Most Visible Channel Leaders, 2 Time ChannelPro 20/20 Visionaries, 2 Time MSP Mentor 250 and SMB Nation’s SMB 150 award recipient.
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