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And Then He Said….(True Story)

Posted on in Retention Strategy

“But she’s a brilliant asshole.”

I picked my jaw up off the table and looked around the room.  The remaining members of the leadership team did not disagree with the statement.

And worse?

In the context of our discussion about their talent strategy, (you know, that little strategy that which defines how you are going to identify, attract, recruit, onboard, develop, and retain, release or rehire the people that will make or break achieving your business strategy), they accepted the statement and conversation moved on.

Major.  Classic.  Leadership Fail….of epic proportions.  And it happens all the time. You cannot.  I repeat, cannot afford to keep a toxic person on your team.

Does firing someone on your team create an inconvenience for you, those that remain and your clients.  Of course, it does!  But I’ll take inconvenience any day over the ripple effect a toxic employee has on your company.  Not convinced?  These statistics help put the gravity of the situation in perspective.

  • Good employees are 54% more likely to quit when they work with a toxic employee if the proportion of toxic employees on their team grows by as little as a 1:20 ratio
  • By making their co-workers significantly more likely to leave, toxic employees lead to rising replacement costs; hiring a single toxic employee onto a team of 20 workers costs approximately $12,800, whereas hiring a non-toxic employee costs an employer an average of $4,000;
  • Toxic employees have a negligible effect on the performance of their co-workers, which suggests that they have a stronger influence on stress and burnout than on day-to-day task completion.

Everyone is replaceable.  If you have a toxic employee, you must release them from your organization as soon as the behavior is identified.  Not after a project is completed or a contract is renewed.  As a leader in your organization, you must remember that your employees are listening to and observing everything you do.  How you handle these types of situations speaks volumes.

What message do you want your employees to see and hear?

Curious as to what happened in this scenario?  Well, you can lead a client to water, but you can’t always get them to drink. The “brilliant asshole” stayed as did the leader who felt her talents outweighed her toxicity.  And the leaders’ department experienced 100% turnover.


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