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Kendra’s Corner: Are You Letting Toxic Employees Get Away With It?

Jun 3, 2022 | HR Services

By Kendra Prospero, CEO

I was working with a customer the other day when he described one of their company leaders as an “acquired taste.” I took the opportunity to dig into what he meant.

It turns out that this leader can be a little bit rough around the edges and is not always kind to his employees. As you might suspect, that particular department of their company also has a lot of turnover. That’s precisely why Turning the Corner was being called in to help.

Unlike other acquired tastes like wine, blue cheese, oysters, and coffee, this flavor of people is toxic for your organization.

First of all, a leader’s values should reflect an organization’s values. It’s also essential that leaders are caring so they can build trust within their teams. The worst thing you can do to team morale is put a toxic leader in charge of your front-line workers. Nobody wants to work for a jerk; even jerks don’t like other jerks. That toxicity will spread from the top and come with collateral damage.

Back to the “acquired taste.” It might be easier just to let this leader’s behavior slide. So what, he’s unkind. What’s the big deal?

The truth is that toxic workers are expensive.

Because of this manager, the company is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in turnover. That doesn’t even include lost productivity from the lack of trust in his team. He needs coaching and training. And if he’s not open to change, I suggest that it’s time to say, “Thank you for your service. We are no longer a fit.”

Why did I share this story? It comes with a personal challenge: I’d like you to pay attention to the things you tolerate… and make sure that they’re worth it.

Some other things I’m thinking about this week

This week, I also worked with someone who was experiencing a lot of head trash—that’s what I call the voice in your head that tries to make you believe that you can’t do something.

When that voice rings too loudly, I often turn to Jen Sincero’s books to help me move forward. Sincero is the author of the You Are a Badass Series, full of hilarious, inspiring stories and exercises that will get you out of your head and onto doing the things you want. She’s also a phenomenal reader, so her books are a blast to listen to if you’re into audiobooks.

I’ve also been learning more about helping companies manage burnout. One of my favorite resources so far is the Maslach Burnout Inventory.

Developed with 35+ years of research by Christina Maslach and her associates, it’s considered the “gold standard” for measuring burnout by looking at emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment.

The tool costs $50 and will help you understand if you (or your team members) are getting burned out. I believe this is important work right now, as burnout has enormous consequences for employees and their organizations on so many levels.

On a different note, my kids are officially out of school… and already they are bored. It’s going to be a great summer!


At Turning the Corner, we believe that meaningful work that we enjoy is one of life’s greatest rewards—it’s why we do what we do! Our mission is to end suffering in the workplace and empower businesses to thrive through various HR services and training opportunities.