How to manage a toxic employee

Photo of a corked blue bottle with a skull-&-crossbones label reading POISONShort answer: don’t.

Try to manage them, that is.

Toxic co-workers are toxic – poisonous, virulent, noxious – those are just a few of the synonyms offered by a Google search.

They damage morale, delay projects, reduce productivity, cause colleagues and managers to dread coming to work, and increase costly employee turnover.

All too often, their behavior is overlooked. Whether it’s because they’re considered “too knowledgeable / too productive / too expert” to let go, or because their manager doesn’t want to face the conflict, or some other reason … they keep on spreading the misery, unchecked.

Don't keep trying to manage a toxic employee. There is no long-term value in hanging on to them. Even if you or your leadership believe they're 'too valuable to lose' - they're actually too destructive to keep. Click To Tweet

This is, bluntly, unacceptable. Leaders must learn to face facts and deal with toxic employees quickly and decisively.

No matter what you or your leadership might think, there is no long-term value in hanging on to a toxic employee.


Work should be more fun, not more stressful. That’s SUCH a value of mine that it’s a core principle of my work, which you can read more about here.

Got other difficult employees? Then you need my handbook, “The Five Most Challenging Employee Types – and how to manage them.” You can also find videos on all five on the Difficult Employees YouTube playlist.


gljudson Difficult people