Jan 25, 2022

5 Types of Toxic Employees That Can Be Damaging Your Team

Surely you’ve heard it over and over again. Despite the repetitive nature of the words, the meaning is clear. There is no “I” in the word “team”.

An effective leader is concerned with facilitating his or her team’s success, not with fulfilling personal ambition and glory. Self-promotion and self-interest can derail the building of a great team when “I” people are involved.

When leaders use “we” language frequently, they send the message that all team members are equally accountable, as in they fail together or succeed together. Recognition and praise for well-deserved work will motivate a team to keep improving. This is what leaders are striving for.

Change can happen quickly or in a slow, labor-intensive process depending on your approach to coaching an employee with poor communication skills. It is detrimental to the team and the project when difficult employees are present. The issue of non-team players should be addressed as soon as possible.

As a leader you’ll need to know how to deal with a difficult employee. What makes a good manager comes down to managing difficult employees and disruptive behaviors.

 5 types of difficult employees

 The Victim

It is the one who claims to be blameless and does not take any responsibility for what occurred. The victim is the least accountable member of the team. In order to deal with victim employees, the manager must define accountability and establish clear expectations. Ideally, the information should be clearly displayed and understood by all. Consequently, the “victim” must either adjust to the obvious rules or become rejected by the rest of the team. 

The Territorial

It is common for territorials to rock the team foundation in a bad way. A tendency to defend their territory in any way possible, i.e., using any and all methods possible to defend it from anyone they believe could be threatening them or their quality of work. An important factor to consider is their attitude. If they would take into account how the team’s performance would be affected by their behavior, then that aggressive defense mechanism might be broken down. In the alternative, removing the territorial is probably the best option if they do not care about the team.

The Pessimist

One who regularly overlooks the positive aspects of a situation. Any changes, whether they are staffing changes, policies, or processes, tend to be strongly resisted by them. Even though dealing with pessimists can be tiring, they can also be instrumental to the team. They can provide a reality check during a time when others may get ahead of themselves by pointing out things that could potentially go wrong. Pessimists are not your leaders nor should they hold positions of leadership, however they may still be able to provide value to your organization.

The (N) ever-present

When the going gets tough, you can anticipate their absence. The telltale signs are frequent sick days, extended breaks as well as a detachment from team duties. An employee who has this type of attitude usually develops when they are dissatisfied with their job, duties, or team. Knowing their background is key, only then can you decide if the person is a good fit for the team. An employee acting in such a way from day one generally reflects a slacker.

 The Narcissists

Narcissists are the exact opposite of your team player employees. Collaboration is not important to them, nor do they care about team objectives. They are usually only concerned with themselves and their egos. Turning a narcissist into a full-fledged team player can be very challenging.

There is a difference between a problematic employee and a toxic employee. Employees with toxic behavior not only cause harm to the team, but they spread their attitude to others as well. Managers and leaders need to be careful about spending all of their time on one individual at the expense of their other priorities. Usually, challenges are the result of poor communication or a mismatch in expectations.

Most people are good and can do good. Be aware of your team’s and employees’ behaviors and keep open lines of communication. In most cases, personal development and one-on-one coaching can repair a problematic employee before they become toxic.


difficult employee


Company Culture, People

Spread the Love ❤

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *