We know the drill about spotting red flags in a potential new hire. Punctuality. CV spelling errors. Rehearsed answers. Most of the time the solution is simple – we just don’t hire them. But what happens when the alarm bells are ringing from inside the building?
Whether they are a new teammate that’s struggling to settle in, or a seasoned worker that has recently lost steam, negative attitudes can quickly spread throughout the business, affecting both morale and your bottom line. When you notice a toxic atmosphere developing it can be tricky to identify the root of a problem, so here are ten traits to look out for.
1. Performance Drops
This should be the easiest to spot, providing that you actively measure and monitor your staff output. A sudden drop in work quantity or quality, that the employee doesn’t make an effort to rectify, can reveal a lack in motivation or someone struggling with their workload. Address the issue, but if the trend continues they may already have their head halfway out the door.
2. Passive Aggression
While sarcastic notes left around communal areas might initially seem funny, passive aggression spreads quickly. If you start sensing thinly-veiled sarcasm in emails (often concluded with a smiley face), or habitual lateness, it’s time to nip it in the bud before it becomes an epidemic.
3. Habitual Lateness
Even the most organised people get held up every now and then, but if an employee is frequently walking through the door ten minutes late, you need to have a chat. Whether they have genuine problems getting to work for a certain time and need to change shift patterns, or simply don’t see the urgency of clocking in, something needs to change.
4. Leaving On The Dot, Every Day
Modern workplace culture demands a work/life balance. This means less working late just to impress the boss, and more sticking to contracted hours to get back to their family. That said, it’s not unreasonable to expect staff to stay a few extra minutes here and there to see a job done well. Clock-watchers aren’t likely to be focused on their work, so keep an eye out.
5. A Pattern Of Sick Days
Working from home or taking a day of leave prevents sick staff from infecting the healthy, ultimately reducing lost productivity. However, if staff ailments start developing a pattern (say, every Saturday night or Monday morning), it suggests your employee no longer sees being at work as a priority.
6. Responsibility Shifting
The same name keeps being tied to company difficulties, but somehow the blame is always shifted elsewhere. Sound familiar? Even if their excuses sound reasonable, if one employee is the common denominator, you should absolutely see this as a warning sign. It’s human nature to avoid punishment but mature staff should be prepared to shoulder responsibility to fix their mistakes.
7. Customers Ask To Switch Contact Points
When negativity overflows into your customer base, you really needed to have acted yesterday. Unhappy customers will be more likely to take their business elsewhere, and reflect on your whole business, not just the one toxic team member.
8. Emotional Instability
Everyone has rough days, but a worker that regularly swings into rage, tears or sulking indicates a bigger problem. Follow company procedure to make sure they are getting the support they need, and don’t leave yourself liable if the outbursts start affecting other members of the team.
9. Sudden LinkedIn Profile Updates
Many professionals spend time cultivating their online presence, and regular changes are to be expected. It’s the outliers that raise a red flag – is a technophobe suddenly working on their number of connections? Has your top sales person recently updated their profile picture after 5 years? Irregular behaviour suggests an employee is brushing off their CV and improving their image for a job elsewhere.
10. They Ask You To Match Another Offer
It’s not unusual for excellent individuals to be headhunted by other companies. However, pay close attention if your employee brings you information about another offer. Are they genuinely interested in staying with your firm? Do they just need a shift in responsibilities? Or are they revealing their active efforts to get work elsewhere, and just squeeze you for a bit more money before they go?
As a manager, there are several measures you can take to limit these behaviours in the workplace. Make sure teams have regular development meetings – formal and informal – to catch issues early and constructively discuss how to resolve them. For shift workers, using Planday employee scheduling software can help you track activity patterns, and understanding your official HR procedures will help you appropriately manage team toxicity.