Are your co-workers toxic ? - Lamboley Executive Search
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Employés toxiques

Are your co-workers toxic ?

We’ve all known co-workers who keep on bossing around, complaining or gossiping at the coffee machine rather than contribute positively to the organisation. On top of being annoying, they are also toxic… and contagious.

One explanation for these toxic personalities is jealousy, lack of talent, inferiority or superiority. This misbehaviour, when it stems from Top Management, flows over and contaminates a company.

What if master manipulators, narcissists, gaslighters were… assholes

We have given them all sorts of names, e.g. manipulators, narcissists or gaslighters … What if these toxic people were just “assholes”?

While some of them do not realise how harmful their behaviour might be, others are way more skillful to the extend of taking a mischievous delight in ruining the lives of their colleagues. This attitude, based on arrogance, bigotry and unreasonable convictions, shapes in groups and in hierarchy. We must say that companies are a thriving place for these behavioural patterns to flourish. Yet, some of them are not easy to identify as they blend into open spaces. But, when the time comes, they burn us out, demean us and disrespect us. Do you have any names in mind ?

Toxic personalities thrive in competitive environments 

The most toxic personalities are those who affect your life at work, ruining your projects to climb the managerial ladder faster. Let’s face the music and call this attitude corporate violence. An e-mail sent to your hierarchy when you have made a mistake, fuzzy orders, lies, gossips, nasty remarks or a fraudulent use of your work are just a few examples of how this attitude takes shape. The thing is consequences are significant with employees no longer willing to take initiatives or make suggestions for fear of being humiliated. Some, often high flyers, resign, file complaints of harassment or are in a burn-out situation.

The Luxembourg dedicated group, Mobbing ASBL, recorded some 200 cases of harassment in 2018 – a figure which is certainly below reality. We must admit that toxic personalities thrive in highly competitive working environment. Naturally, the more you are surrounded by these individuals, the more you adopt their attitudes. In other terms, their toxic effect turns out to be highly contagious. Conversely, if top management shows respect, employees will share this value.

Recognise toxic personalities 

Some toxic people are not aware of how harmful their behaviour could affect other people. In this case, you need to provide support and guidance to help them break away from this style. As for genuine toxic personalities, the situation is different. Let’s be clear: we are not changing toxic individuals who are conscious of their power. The only solution, unfortunately, is to dismiss them even if it means losing skillful people! I’ve heard too many times in my career: “yes, we know, but we need him or her” or “No one else can fill in “! Answering as such is disrespectful to other employees and makes the company a partner in crime.

Once you’ve dismissed toxic personalities, you need to think about why this behaviour developed within your company. It is at the source that action must be taken. One solution is to use a headhunter who will help you to avoid recruiting such profiles. A thorough analysis of candidates’ personality, based on concrete and precise examples of their background and management style, as well as knowledge of the market, will be the keys to the success of your recruitment. The headhunter will also analyse if the candidate’s values match those of your company. Learning to recognise these personalities when recruiting requires experience and methods.

We have all met toxic co-workers who usually thrive in changing organisational structures, fuzzy missions and floating environments. It is necessary for employers to protect their talents from the psychological damage caused by these toxic personalities.

Have you ever had any difficult relationship with your colleagues? What were the consequences on your work and motivation?

Let’s recruit your talent together!

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