If you’ve ever had what you would consider to be a toxic employee, you know how difficult they can be. The definition, “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation,” while intended to be referencing a poisonous substance, can also ring true for a poisonous employee who has the potential to cause the “death or serious debilitation” of your practice.
A toxic employee’s venom can spread like wildfire through your practice, affecting everyone it touches. Some employees may be more susceptible to “turning to the dark side” with this toxic person than other employees are, but everyone will feel the negativity. Everyone will have moments of wondering if the toxic employee is right about things. Everyone’s job satisfaction will be impacted.
So, how do you put out the fire before it spreads to your best employees? How do you handle a toxic team member? Here are a few tips.
- Document specific instances of toxicity so you can remember details when the time comes to confront the employee.
- Schedule a meeting with the toxic employee and confront the behavior head on, including your specific examples of toxic behavior the staff member has exhibited. Too often, managers say something like, “You are negative and it needs to stop.” While this is better than not confronting the employee at all, it isn’t ideal. Instead, say something like, “When you talk openly about your dislike for Dr. Smith and how you don’t respect her quality of medicine, it creates negative feelings among the team and clients.”
- Help the employee understand how this behavior affects the entire team and the overall success of the business.
- Give the employee alternative solutions to prevent toxic behavior. For example, the toxic employee could:
- Talk to the specific person who can solve his or her problem rather than gossiping about it to others
- Meditate or pray
- Take a break away from the practice to breathe and cope with stress (and perhaps even evaluate if the practice is the right fit professionally)
- Always end the meeting with two things:
- Get the employee’s commitment to change his or her behavior or actions
- Explain that there will be consequences if it happens again, including possible termination (don’t forget to document this and have the employee sign the documentation)
Your team members keep your practice running smoothly every day. Don’t let one throw a wrench in your success.