Being a toxic employee is one of the most common career limiting things you can do.
Ok, so that’s kinda obvious, but here’s the thing. What exactly constitutes being a toxic employee?
Do you even know what sort of employee you are?
Here’s a quick clue: do people gravitate towards you? Are they openly pleased that you are at work? Or do they stay away from you?
Most toxic behavior is verbal, but not all. If you are toxic, you may demonstrate some (if not all) of the following behaviors:
1) Making negative comments
These can be said openly or behind the backs of others, and can be aimed at ideas, processes, co-workers, managers, clients, vendors, or anything else. If this is something you do, have you considered offering constructive suggestions instead? Whining and complaining falls into this category.
2) Exhibiting negative body language
As with the example in 1) above, petulant behavior could be in response to a work request, to a comment made by someone, or anything else.
If you are tempted to say something with the intention of making others look stupid, just don’t. Also, if you believe you know it all, you don’t. Also, while it is important to look after your own affairs, doing so without any regard to (or at the expense of) the wider team can only generate ill-will.
4) Being two-faced
An example of this is openly criticizing managers’ decisions behind their backs, but agreeing with them to their faces. Nor is being two-faced strictly reserved for managers. Co-workers, employees, clients or anyone else can be targets.
5) Spreading malicious gossip
This can be seen as a close cousin to 4) above, but the topics of choice with malicious gossip can include anything.
6) Hoarding ideas or knowledge
Some people jealously hoard their knowledge. Their motivation is typically insecurity, in that they believe the value they have is wrapped up in that knowledge, so to share it with others lessens their value. The opposite is true. Sharing it will make you a touchpoint. People will respect your knowledge, and seek it more often.
7) Not giving credit
If someone helps you, whether it’s for something minor, or something major, thank them. Then go further and tell everyone about it. The impression you create if you do can only be positive – because only senior people who are secure in their roles ever do it.
8) Making things difficult
Whenever anyone asks anything of you, you have a choice in how you respond. Even if you can’t do what they ask, you can make it easy for them (usually with just a few words), or make it hard. Obviously, this will often depend on the existing relationship you have with the person, but why do something that will make that relationship worse?
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but is there someone at work who does these things? Maybe you could send them a link to this article. Set up a gmail account if you want to do it anonymously.
Has someone sent this article to you? Maybe from a gmail account you don’t recognize? Then perhaps they had a reason.
If you do these things, then perhaps you should ask yourself, “Why?” Has work has made you bitter? Is it time to move on, perhaps to a different environment?
Or it is time to get some counseling in order to understand why you are behaving the way you do?
If you make an effort to improve, there’s one thing you can count on: your colleagues will appreciate it.
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