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How To Manage Toxic Employees

Bryan Minihan

Chief Technology Officer at Autoshop Solutions

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Problem

"A couple of years ago, I was working for a company called Health Decisions, a clinical trial research firm. I had a team of twenty people, and one of them was academically gifted, but very cocky. I inherited the team, so he was there when I started. I soon learned that he didn't get along very well with the rest of the team, had failed at a few projects in front of our CEO, but was still well-liked, so I was told to encourage everyone to get along with each other."

Actions taken

"During my first six months of working for Health Decisions, I came to realize that he was causing huge tension in the team and discounted everybody else's experiences. When an issue arose, I knew if I didn't address it "in the moment", the problem wouldn't be fixed. It's not helpful to tell someone they have done something wrong a week after they made the mistake. I started to recognize moments where I would go out of the office and when I returned I would hear rumors about how there had been an argument between the problematic employee and someone else. I would have to track that down and determine the facts. I met with him, each time, to explain the nature of the problem to him and what I needed him to fix. Unfortunately, there were several incidents like this. I don't like to give written warnings quickly, as I take them very seriously. Because of this, it took me a while to fully realize that he didn't want to change his behaviors in regards to the other team members. Unfortunately, in this case, the team member didn't improve. Instead, he continued to blame other people for misunderstanding what he said. Eventually, I did have to let him go."

Lessons learned

"I take employee issues seriously and try to jump on them as early as possible. It's important to be persistent, especially in the case of managing someone who is having trouble with other team members. Usually, after two or three tries, the team member will understand and will ask for help. Not everybody responds to the same language. In this case, there was also a cultural barrier as the team member was from Eastern Europe. Because of this, he didn't find things offensive when a lot of his team members did. I had to explain to him that just because it wasn't his culture, he needed to understand and respect it, just as his team needed to understand and respect his."


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Bryan Minihan

Chief Technology Officer at Autoshop Solutions


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