Toxic Coworkers

Everyone can probably bring to mind at least one person off the top of their head that made a work experience toxic. No one likes these people. Not only do they bring down morale of everyone in workplace, but it’s actually proven that they do lower the amount of productivity. According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, in a survey conducted asking thousands of managers and employees, they found some shocking statistics. On the receiving end of the toxic person in the workplace:

“48% decreased their work effort, 47% decreased their time at work, 38% decreased their work quality, 66% said their performance declined, 80% lost work time worrying about the incident, 63% lost time avoiding the offender, and 78% said their commitment to the organization has declined.”

While the results are not all that surprising, I am shocked by the high percentages. The biggest problem, I think, is that 78% had lower commitment to the company. In almost all of my business classes I learn that loyalty to the organization is so important to every other aspect of work done. So while corporations may have a bunch of hoops that managers have to jump through before someone can be fired, perhaps this should be reconsidered if managers only knew how much toxic workers actually do affect the productivity.

As I talked about in an earlier blog, I experienced a toxic team during my internship last summer. This boy would not do any work, causing our supervisors to load more work on the rest of us to make up for him. We were all upset all summer because everyone knew how useless he was, even the higher managers, but there were so many hoops to go through before any action could be taken, that for three months I worked as hard as I could while he sat next to me watching pointless Youtube videos and only receiving an occasional slap on the wrist. Oh how different this experience and company would have been and continue to be in my eyes if only some sort of action had been taken.

We all tried to get along with him, we would use as many of these tips as possible. Each day we prepared ourselves for what we knew was to come, we tried not to take the situation personally, and in any confrontation avoided being over-emotional. Towards the end of the summer, things became so toxic every day that my coworkers and myself set up a meeting with our main manager. We expressed all of our frustrations in a calm, professional manner along with evidence of our complaints. She proceeded to tell us that she knew all of this was happening but there was nothing she could do about it, even as his manager, besides making passive statements in meetings that we were all in. This is almost worse than the actions of the toxic people, in my opinion. It’s not fun to work with impossible people, but it’s even worse that they know they can’t be fired even if they are a big pain to everyone else.

Within this video are points that can be found in just about every advice article for working with toxic people and also within our book for this class. One tip that is in this video that is different than other columns I’ve read, is to not let someone take your joy. It’s important to remember that everyone has bad days, everyone loses control of their emotions or mood every once in awhile, but we can’t let their problems become our own. I think this is where having faith in God as a business person comes into play. I have an inner joy because I know that God loves me, is in control, and will never leave me. Not everyone is aware of these facts and not everyone has a great relationship with God to lean on during frustrating times at work. Being a Christian and leaning on God when I cannot stand, I’ve found, is most beneficial when working with a toxic coworker.

^^We’ve all been there. 🙂

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