Toxic Employees


Seth Godin’s post on toxic employees reminds me of a job I had very early in my illustrious HR career. I accepted a recruiting role that had been vacated by a woman who took on the recruiting role when it was previously vacated by another woman. No one lasted more than 12 months in that role before I took the job, and I barely made it two years without losing my mind.

The job sucked because my supervisor was a power-hungry HR leader on an ego trip. I sat back and watched the chaos unfold before my young & naive eyes. I learned a valuable lesson in Corporate America: duck and cover.

So I wonder:

  • What happens when the toxic employee is your boss?
  • What happens with the toxic employee is someone who leads and mentors others?
  • What happens when the toxic employee advises C-Suite leaders in your organization?

One would hope that the marketplace drives out toxic employees; however, I think the marketplace is overrated. Toxic employees benefit from organizational inertia, and I’m cynical enough to believe that inertia is convenient tool for those who know how to manipulate the marketplace.

I think Seth has part of the answer: demand accountability from managers when it comes to ‘managing’ toxic employees. On the other hand, toxic employees aren’t created in a vacuum. They

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