The right team of employees can make or break a company. But despite all your diligence in hiring only the best and the brightest, there is always the chance that you will end up with an employee who is dragging the rest of the business down. As companies remain cautious about new hires, with the unemployment rate still hovering above 7%, more companies are opting to give more hours to existing employees rather than to hire new ones, meaning it is even more important to make sure you have the right team in place.

It is never an easy task to take away someone’s livelihood, but as management consultant and Inc contributor Steve Tobak notes, the longer toxic employees stay around, the more likely it becomes that the good employees will leave. If you recognize any of your employees in this list, you may want to consider their future with your company.

  1. The Drama Queen (or King)
    Finding an office with zero gossip is rarer than an albino alligator. But just because it may be impossible to do away with gossip completely does not mean you must put up with the worst offenders. A drama queen (of either gender) gossips, spreads rumors, and sits back waiting for sparks to fly. Often he divulges gossip under the guise of “I just thought you would want to know” when the truth is you did not want to know at all. They just want to get a reaction and force uncomfortable confrontation. This behavior can drive managers crazy and drive teams apart.
  2. The Naysayer
    While there is certainly value in getting different perspectives on a new idea, The Naysayer only has one perspective and it is always “No.” This type of employee doesn’t just see the glass as half empty, he sees can not even imagine the possibility of the glass ever being full again. Naysayers negatively impact morale in a big way and make other employees reluctant to share innovate ideas when they know they will immediately be shot down.
  3. The I in Team
    Different employees will always have different levels of comfort with teamwork. Some of the best employees prefer to work alone. But when an employee can never manage to get along with a team, no matter what the context, it might be time to cut her loose.
  4. Culture Collide
    Every company has a distinct culture, whether they work hard to cultivate it or it simply coalesces around the original team. When an employee comes in that just does not fit, no matter how hard he tries, or even how good he is at his job, it can cause real problems. As entrepreneur and tech investor Howard Tullman puts it, all your employees should “drink the Kool-Aid” if you want to succeed as a team. The Kool-Aid is different for every company, but employees that do not have a taste for it can ultimately be disruptive to your progress.
  5. Excuse Me
    It is easy to see how ineffective employees who cannot get work in on time belong on this list. But what may be worse than an employee who is consistently late or unproductive is one that always has an excuse. Even a good excuse is an excuse. When you can trust that an employee will have an excuse easier than you can trust that her work will be completed, you have a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
  6. An Immovable Beast
    The modern business world moves faster than any of our predecessors could have fathomed. The days of 9 to 5 are over for everyone but bankers and every time you turn around there is a new technology that can help – or hinder- your business. Employees need to understand how fast things move and be ready to pivot on a dime. The inflexible employee who is set in his ways is trouble. It is one thing to follow the rules but quite another be unwilling to see past them.
  7. El Complainador
    Simply put, some people feel that they are not only entitled to their job, they are entitled to not have to do any work. These employees look for a way to complain about anything. Whether or not they accomplish their tasks is beside the point. An atmosphere of complaints, where the boss and work are positioned as a common enemy, is not a recipe for a happy or productive company. Complainers have no place in an effective workplace.

Every workplace is different and it is important to have diversity on your team. But these toxic employees can make everyone’s job harder while contributing a minimal amount. Firing people is hard, but letting them drag down your business will be a whole lot worse.

About the author

Matt Faustman

Matt Faustman

Matt is the co-founder and CEO at UpCounsel. Matt believes in the power of online platforms to change antiquated ways of life and founded UpCounsel to make legal services efficiently accessible. He is responsible for our overall vision and growth of the UpCounsel platform. Before founding UpCounsel, Matt practiced as a startup and business attorney.

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