Hanny Lerner

Employees can be the greatest thing or the worst nightmare for a business owner – it all depends on who you hire and who you decide to keep. The right employees contribute to the company’s success, stability and happiness. The wrong employees will bring the company down, and cause the owner endless anxiety and grief.  After five years of hiring and firing many people, I’ve come to the conclusion that almost all employees fall into one of these four categories:

How To Get Rid Of Toxic Employees - And Hire Right

Staff Working Well Together - Their Smiles Are Genuine!

1.     The Motivated Employee

This employee brings positive, contagious energy. Motivated employees are usually happy and enthusiastic. They are devoted and loyal to their company, and do their best to help the company grow. They consider their job a privilege, not an entitlement. When they make a mistake, they don’t blame others for it. They take responsibility, apologize for their oversight, and do their best to prevent it from reoccurring. When an opportunity arises for them to hone their skills or to learn something new, the motivated employees are the first ones to take advantage of it. They are usually one of the earliest to arrive and latest to leave work. They stay late to finish a project, or complete it from home after-hours. Motivated employees usually have great work ethics. They smile often, greet their colleagues and work well with their teammates. The motivated employees were the best employees I’ve ever hired.

2.     The Indifferent Employee

This employee is usually very obedient without complaining much. Indifferent employees focus on completing their tasks so they can finish and get out on time. They don’t spend a lot of time chitchatting with their colleagues. They don’t see the workplace as a place to have fun, but as a place to perform a job function in order to pay their bills. They arrive exactly on time, leave exactly on time, and get annoyed when they’re asked to stay late (although they may not outwardly show it). They may get frustrated if a colleague asks them for help, because that distracts them from working. They may nod a “hello” when they pass you by, and rarely show any excitement about their work. They will take responsibility for their mistakes, but with a nonchalant attitude that makes them appear unapologetic. Indifferent employees can be important to a team, as they don’t cause drama, rarely get into arguments and usually complete their tasks quicker than everyone else.

Disgruntled Employee

3.     The Disgruntled Employee

Everything bothers this employee. Disgruntled employees talk negatively about the company to their fellow coworkers, and they complain when something doesn’t go their way. They constantly find excuses to not do their tasks, and they tend to push off responsibilities that they don’t like doing. If it were up to them, they’d push it off indefinitely. If you confront a disgruntled employee about a mistake, they’d give you 14 excuses and blame it one someone else. They don’t take initiative, never promote the company and find fault in everything around them. Disgruntled employees rarely smile, and when they do, it’s usually when a colleague is agreeing with something they’re complaining about. They sulk for not getting promoted, but fail to see that it’s the cause of their own behavior, attitude and lack of work ethic. They have a habit of arriving late to work, blame it on traffic and complain if you ask them to stay overtime to make up the missed hours. Disgruntled employees exhaust the employer’s time, energy and focus, as well as bring negative energy to their department.

4.     The Con-Artist Employee

Like an ambulance chaser or a professional tenant, this employee knows how to “work the system”. Con-artist employees come into the workforce with an agenda. They usually believe that their colleagues and employers are out to get them. They show little or no appreciation for their job but rather a sense of entitlement. They hate taking responsibility for their own actions, and will spend a considerable amount of time trying to prove their “innocence”. They’ll get hired just to get fired, so they can collect unemployment. They will fake or exaggerate an injury (or even worse, deliberately hurt themselves) just so they can collect Worker’s Comp insurance without having to work. They will sue their employer for discrimination, wrongful termination and anything else they or their slip-and-fall lawyer can think of. They will pick fights with their colleagues, constantly demand raises, and complain that they are not being treated fairly. Con-artist employees are gossipers, and constantly cause ruckuses in the workplace. They are easily offended and quick to get angry. It’s because of these con-artist employees that Labor Attorneys are so successful. And it’s because of these employees that so many employers wish they never started a business or hired any employees. There is nothing more stressful and heart-wrenching than having to deal with a toxic employee who’s out to hurt everyone. No joke, I was tempted to shut down my business more than once because of these types of employees. On the flip side, there is certainly no greater satisfaction than having a team of positive, motivated employees who share the same goal of helping the company succeed. Imagine how amazing our jobs would be if we hired right all the time.

How To Ensure You Hire Right

Of course there is no foolproof way to hiring right. Sometimes employees appear one way and turn out another way. But it’s crucial to take these precautionary steps before hiring, which will hopefully minimize detrimental hiring choices:

1.     Always do a background and criminal check. This is the absolute first step in weeding out the people that are not right for your company. It costs a few dollars, but is worth every penny.

2.     Always call the employee’s former employers and references. This is an easy way to get some vital information about the employee that you otherwise wouldn’t get, and a good way to see if he/she is telling the truth.

3.     Give your employee an Employee Assessment Test, which is a personality test for employees. The most accurate test I’ve seen is Predictive Index (PI). The insight you will get and the accuracy of these test results are mind-blowing. I’ve worked with Kathleen Frank from Augur Inc, a trained and certified PI consultant who helped me realize through PI that people at my company were in the wrong job roles.

4.     Always do at least 2 or 3 rounds of interviews, so you can see how the prospective employee behaves on different days. The more you meet with them, the more likely you will understand their character.

5.     Introduce them to your key staff before hiring them. See how they interact with others that they’d potentially be working with. Your existing employees have intuition, and will share their feelings about the candidate. At the end of the day, the employees need to get along with one another and work well as a team, so it’s important that your employees like the newcomers.

6.     Ask lots of questions. Sometimes asking uncomfortable questions like “how did you react when a colleague made you really angry at work?” can trigger an employee to react in a way that is very telling. Put together key questions that will enable the employee to experience-share.

7.     Ask the employee why they are interested in working for your company. If someone says “because it looked interesting” or “I need to pay my bills”, they’re likely not going to be the highly-motivated, enthusiastic employee you’re looking for.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have the right people working for you. If you have an employee that is toxic, hire a labor attorney to advise you on letting them go. Keeping them in the company will only cause anguish and unnecessary stress.