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Leaders, Stay Away from 3 Toxic Employee Traps

Fierce Ideas (orange lightbulb)

noun: trap; plural noun: traps
— an unpleasant situation from which it is hard to escape

In a new Fierce Survey released today, we found four out of five employees believe leaders don’t do enough to combat toxic employees.

Do your employees think that about you?

It’s time to wake up and be aware that the potential for toxicity in your organization is everywhere. And it is your job, leader, to make sure you don’t fall into any of the traps that create negativity.

Trap #1 Employees feel undervalued.

Employees who feel disposable, commoditized, or who don’t understand their role within an organization often hold on to negative energy. This negative energy can be poisonous when spread amongst other colleagues.

Tip: Ask each member of your team how and when they feel most valued. Get curious and learn what matters to the people you work with every day. Make next steps that are easy to put in action and show your commitment.

Trap #2 Employees lack recognition.

Asking for the best of someone and giving them nothing in return, except perhaps a paycheck, can be demeaning. If an employee feels they are not being recognized well, over time they are likely to become bitter, which can turn toxic quickly.

Tip: In your next team meeting, leave 10-15 minutes to do “shout-outs”. Kick off this exercise by you, the leader, sharing positive things you have noticed with the team and/or individuals in the past month. Keep the examples specific and share the impact they have had on the team and organization.

Trap #3 Conflict exists between employees.

Our survey found that over half of employees argue with their co-workers at least once a month. Not resolving these conflicts, which are inevitable in many ways, can leave an employee with feelings of helplessness and futility.

Tip: Bring in training for your team to deal with conflict in a healthy, productive manner. Our confrontation model reframes a potentially combative interaction to a solution-oriented conversation. Give your team the skills they need to better address issues – small and large.

As a leader, do you fall into any of these traps?


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