The concept of a destructive employee doesn’t necessarily have to mean one who’s physically destructive, even if some of those certainly exist. But the most common type of destructive employee is one who causes damage psychologically in more ways than one. Whether you also want to describe them as a particular noun that starts with a big ‘A’, you certainly can. Then again, you only make matters worse when telling them this to their face. Some destructive employees just become worse when you have an immediate reaction to them.
What makes this complicated is you may not want to fire this employee because they have experience you currently need. It also would put a delay on things if you’re all working toward an important project. Then there’s also the possibility that if you let them go, they’d sue you for unfair termination.
As with all destructive personalities, you simply have to use psychology to keep these employees under control. First, you have to know what type of personalities these people typically have. Then you can use some proven techniques to at least avoid continual trouble.
What Kind of Destructive Personality Traits Are Typical?
One of the worst personality traits of destructive employees is one who refuses to do anything other than their own job. Inc. noted this in their list of destructive employee types. These people are defined as not being a team player and may feel as if they should be owed something for paying dues. They may also abuse their career experience and give some sense of superiority to new employees. A person like this may boast about how many years they’ve been there rather than having a good track record of actually getting things done.
Then there’s the gossip-mongers who go around telling lies about fellow office peers. While this may sound like grade school level tactics, it happens far too often in the office. A destructive employee corrupts any sense of communication because they’re too afraid to talk one-on-one with a fellow employee about an issue.
And let’s not forget the ones who want to take the glory for a project well done, yet never take the blame if something goes wrong. These people might live with an attitude of seeking perfection, even if that ultimately backfires and makes them look like an egoist. If they aren’t willing to take the blame with everyone else for something going wrong, then they end up becoming a pariah to their fellow employees.
How do you deal with these complex psychological personalities? You have Psych 101 on your side.
Steps to Avoid Further Conflict
The site Psychology for Business points out that you should keep destructive employees away from other managers so they don’t try to bring you down. People like this will do everything they can to turn the tables and make you look like the villain rather than the other way around.
Overall, though, not showing anger is your best course. While you can try to avoid contact with them as much as possible, it’s going to be impossible if you’re all working as a team. If you end up in an argument about who’s really to blame for a problem, you should have facts on your side. That’s why you should have inarguable evidence around to show who did what so you can prove your case. Facts will usually shut someone up who’s exhibiting a destructive personality.
Then again, the worst ones never give up and will keep on with their obnoxious path. In that case, you may have to hire consultants to come in who work as employee or executive coaches. Many of these consultants have seen it all and can give recommendations on how to handle such an employee.
The above will be more complicated than if you vetted the personalities of your employees in the first place before hiring. That’s why it’s important to hire consultants who can help scope out the appropriate personality traits you need in your company to prevent future employee quagmires.