Toxicity in the Workplace

Because the hiring process doesn’t always work out perfectly, you’re bound to have worked with a not so great employee during your career. The problem is that you might not have known how bad they were when they first started. But once you figured it out, well, you know how toxic a bad employee can be.  How did they even find their way onto your team in the first place? Or … how did they find their way into managing your team?  

So, what’s really the lesser of two evils: a toxic team member or toxic manager?  Is one even more toxic than the other? How does the impact of a low performing coworker differ from that of a pessimistic leader? And is there a way these sinking ships sail the office into success?


We’ve all worked with these coworkers before. They show up late, have bad attitudes, and are the first to bolt out the door. They can usually be spotted with a dark cloud looming over their head. These are the workers that complain about their workload or given tasks every chance they get. These employees don’t usually last very long on your team because their attitude is usually noticeable by supervisors. The difference between the employee and the manager is the exposure to toxicity. With a team member, you’ll probably have more day-to-day face time with them.

A bad employee is damaging to your company and atmosphere, but does is it hold a flame to a horrible boss?


There’s no getting around it, having a toxic person in a leadership role is damaging. This person typically has influence – not only over your team, but sometimes the entire company.  Besides affecting the atmosphere and culture of a team, a pessimistic leader can stand in the way of others growth, creativity, and even fracture communication. While an encouraging leader fosters growth, a horrible manager has a penchant for control; they would rather dictate rather than teach. Ultimately, if a person on a leadership team is toxic, it doesn’t take long for the company to suffer.

Two negative people, two very different roles. Both are equally wrong for the company but is one more damaging than the other?

The answer? Both are equally harmful!

A company trying to grow in success should have employees who believe in the same mission, regardless if they’re a low level employee or a top leader. When hiring a potential candidate, you have to keep in mind that they are going to be as much of an influence on the company as any other current member.

Careerplug launched our first free ebook on Building a Talent Magnet this year. It’s all about what helping our clients attract talent and build successful hiring processes, and how growing businesses can start to build their own Talent Magnet. Our ebook can help you filter through toxic members so that you won’t face current dilemmas. 

For more hiring tips follow us on Twitter @CareerPlug

Justin Zungia is CareerPlug’s Sales & Marketing Intern 

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