8 tips for identifying and managing toxic pharmacy employees

In a team environment, it’s important for colleagues to develop healthy relationships that allow them to trust each other. When one of the members starts expressing toxic behaviour, it can be challenging for the team to operate smoothly and maintain high efficiency and productivity levels. Learning how to deal with negative behaviour in the workplace is essential when you’re a manager and can increase your job satisfaction if you’re a regular employee working in a team. In this article, we explain what toxic employees are and share techniques you can use for managing toxic employees respectfully.

What are toxic employees?
Before you explore various techniques for managing toxic employees, it’s beneficial to learn what a toxic employee is and explore their key characteristics. A toxic employee is an individual whose actions and words negatively impact the work of others. In some instances, they may even cause internal issues for the entire team. Toxic team members tend to complain a lot, gossip and blame others for their own mistakes. It’s also common for them to repeatedly report their team members, which they may do simply out of spite.

As a result of their actions, toxic employees can make others stressed and cause the entire team to work in an atmosphere of frustration. Although working with a toxic team member can be challenging, it’s important their colleagues and managers realise that their negative behaviour can be the result of emotional issues or personal life difficulties that the toxic person is handling. If you’re a manager, knowing how to deal with negative team members can help you improve your leadership skills and maintain a positive work environment.

How to steps on managing toxic employees
Learning to deal with negativity in the workplace is one of the key challenges for you as a manager or team leader. Here are some techniques you can use for managing toxic employees:

  1. Don’t take their behaviour personally
    When you encounter a toxic team member, remember that their actions probably have nothing to do with you. Presumably, they’re the result of the negative emotions they keep in themselves as a result of the personal problems they’re experiencing. Making sure you don’t take their behaviour or words personally allows you to look at them more objectively and treat them with more compassion. In some instances, showing you care about their well-being and don’t consider what they do offensive can make a negative colleague trust you and openly discuss their negativity.
  2. Try identifying the cause of the problem
    In some instances, you may observe that some people joining a team already express signs of toxicity. Other times, it’s possible they become toxic as a result of some events or decisions. If you’re experiencing the latter, it may be helpful to carefully analyse their behaviour and determine when their actions have started negatively impacting others.
    For example, you may notice that someone starts gossiping and undermining others after their colleague got a promotion. This might indicate jealousy as the cause of the problem. To handle it, you can openly discuss with the toxic person that they too can advance their career by developing the right skills and learning to inspire others rather than demotivating them.
  3. Document toxic behaviour
    Before you approach a toxic team member to discuss their behaviour, it’s necessary to gather evidence that shows their offensive or negative behaviour. For example, you can gather emails in which they undermine or offend their colleagues. It’s also useful to collect formal complaints that other team members submitted to inform the company about the problem. Make sure to save any documents or files you obtain, as it may be necessary to show them to higher management if you decide it’s impossible to resolve the issue and choose to escalate it instead.
  4. Give them honest and direct feedback
    As a team leader or manager, one of your tools for disciplining team members includes one-on-one reviews. After identifying whose toxic behaviour negatively impacts the team’s performance and trying to discover the root of the problem, it’s often helpful to schedule a meeting with that person and give them honest feedback. In some situations, a toxic employee may not be aware of the impact their words and behaviour have on others. Explaining it to them and requesting they start thinking of others when expressing their negative emotions is essential.
  5. Explain the consequences of their actions
    Usually, it’s not appropriate to terminate someone right after noticing they’re toxic at work. Instead, employers introduce guidelines that you, as a manager, can use to discipline subordinates. An essential element of this process is clearly explaining the consequences of someone’s negative behaviour to them. Depending on your work schedule and environment, you may choose to do this in person or via email. Sending a written warning can be especially useful if you’ve already spoken to the toxic team member but they’ve still not improved their behaviour.
  6. Start assigning them tasks they can complete independently
    Sometimes difficult employees contribute positively to the team’s overall performance, despite their toxic behaviour. For example, this can happen when the person who gossips or undermines others is an expert with years of experience in the field. To make sure they stay with the company and to help others free themselves from their negative impact, determine if it’s possible for the person to work fully independently or remotely.
  7. Try deciding on a compromise
    Even if you try different approaches, in some situations it’s necessary to accept that some people may never change. If it’s impossible to reassign them to a different team or terminate their employment, you might try finding a compromise. When deciding what’s best for the entire team, consider everyone’s opinion and ideas. For example, you may ask the toxic person to always contact you first when they have a complaint instead of being offensive towards colleagues. That way, you can identify the issue quickly and try reassigning their tasks so they don’t interrupt the team’s performance.
  8. Terminate them.
    If you read this blog, you own a pharmacy. The buck stops with you. If the strategies are not working and a toxic team member is making people miserable, cut your losses and fire them. It’s not worth the stress and loss of team cohesion.

What to avoid when dealing with a toxic team member

Interacting with a toxic team member requires you to stay respectful and objective, even if their actions impact you personally. Remember, as a manager, you represent your employer and it’s appropriate that you foster a culture of understanding and compassion. Here’s what to avoid when dealing with a toxic subordinate:

Never bring it up in front of the entire team

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to provide solutions to problems without disrupting your team’s work. When you encounter a toxic individual at work, it’s advisable to either talk to them about their behaviour or wait to see if their actions bother the rest of the team. Once you’ve confirmed that and managed to find a solution, then it’s usually the time to talk to others about it.

Never terminate team members immediately or without proof
Formally disciplining subordinates is only appropriate when you have proof of their negative behaviour. If you decide to terminate someone, make sure you’ve used all the resources you had to help them first. It’s also helpful to document the response you gave them, as your supervisor may ask about it.

Never disrespect toxic team members
Working with a toxic person can be frustrating, as toxicity can cause others to behave in a similar way. Not allowing that to happen is a sign of professionalism, which also helps you position yourself as a role model in the workplace. Whenever you interact with a toxic team member, remember to treat them with respect, just like in any other interaction you have at work.