At some point in your career, you will deal with this employee. Left unaddressed, one of these employees can cost you 5-10 good employees over the years and a lot of customers and money. You can also expect complaints and maybe legal or media issues.
This employee brings sickness to a healthy culture. They are a morale killer. They harm productivity. They create risks and liabilities. They consume the limited and valuable energy of the organization.
Their sole focus is themselves. Whether for professional or personal reasons, they direct their time, talent, and energy into all kinds of self-serving activities. The mission, team, and customers are not their real concern. They believe the organization and customers exist to serve them.
The motive is either extreme ambition or a love of drama. Either way, it is deeply dysfunctional.
If it is extreme ambition, they think getting ahead means holding others back or taking others down. They avoid addressing their need for improvement by always identifying the deficiencies of others. They engage in elaborate and extensive campaigns to discredit others. They undermine and harm good employees who they think make them look bad or they perceive as threats.
Or they just like to start fires to watch them burn. They provoke conflict and discord. Civility is impossible and drama is constant. Everything is extortion to please them to lessen the friction and conflict. They get some kind of personal thrill for their otherwise pathetic lives out of making others miserable.
One of two outcomes will occur. They do plenty of damage until removed or even worse, they stay or succeed or get farther and remain longer.
They don’t have teammates or colleagues – others are just obstacles in their way or props in their plays. Their work time is not spent on the work – it’s spent doing destructive things.
This employee should never be hired, retained, or promoted. If you ever inherit or let them in, get them gone.
Hire character, strengthen skills, and teach subjects. Protect a healthy culture and strong team at all costs. Be a leader – deal with problems or problems will deal with you.
From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training.
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