Managing the paradox of the poisonous performer

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One of the common traits of a toxic worker is that they are usually a top performer in the company. Herein lies the paradox for leaders: Is it better to have a productive but toxic worker, despite the effect on the wider team – or not? 

Tony Schwartz suggests if you have to work with a toxic colleague, re-frame your situation by looking through three lenses:

1. The Lens of Realistic Optimism – move beyond your default reaction. Tell yourself a different story. Is there an alternative, more positive way to view the situation? “Stand outside your experience, rather than simply reacting to it.”

2. The Reverse Lens – Schwartz argues that “One of the most powerful ways to reclaim your value, when it feels threatened, is to find a way to appreciate the perspective of the person you feel devalued by.” In other words: Empathy.

3. The Long Lens – look beyond the current situation to imagine a better future. Put simply, what can I learn from this experience however hard, that will help me in the future?

In a business context, particularly in the world of professional services, in which success relies on collaboration, interpersonal relationships and retaining a limited pool of talented, motivated individuals, you cannot tolerate toxic team members, however productive they might be.

Ultimately, if you can’t change the people, then you have to change the people.

Read the full article here: The Paradox of the Poisonous Performer – Openside

Images from by Kuan Fang and Alexander Londono