High Cost of Failing to Deal with Toxic EmployeesCornerstone OnDemand analyzed their dataset of 63,000 employees spanning 250,000 observations and concluded:

  • Good employees are 54 percent more likely to quit when they work with a toxic employee, if the proportion of toxic employees on their team grows by as little as one on a team of 20.
  • As toxic employees make their co-workers significantly more likely to leave, replacement costs rise greatly; hiring a single toxic employee into a team of 20 workers costs approximately $12,800, whereas hiring a non-toxic employee costs an employer an average of $4,000.
  • Employees are many times more likely to engage in toxic behavior if they’re exposed to other toxic employees.

This research underscores the critical need for leaders to provide feedback and coaching to employees at the first signs of potentially toxic behavior. Unfortunately, we’ve found that a majority of leaders avoid giving corrective feedback. Yet almost every employee wants more feedback.

Here are a few tips for giving corrective feedback:

  1. Immediately play the background music – like music in a movie signaling something serious is about to happen, your facial expression, setting, or tone of voice can help your receiver prepare for the discussion.
  2. Make and follow a plan – this should include you calmly and objectively describing what’s happened or the receiver’s behavior that concerns you, getting his or her view of the situation, outlining how you’d like to see things to be going forward, and getting his or her agreement and ownership of the plan.
  3. Don’t tackle multiple topics in one discussion – stick with your main concern and don’t pile on other issues. Save those for another day.
  4. Rehearse any serious discussion – the more delicate or emotional the issue, the more critical it is that you’re well prepared and have rehearsed how you’ll frame and guide the conversation.
  5. Treat the receiver with an extra measure of respect – asking rather than telling, being calm and factual, and not insisting on a quick fix are marks of respect.

See our whitepaper, Feedback – The Powerful Paradox, for more insights and research underlying our Elevating Feedback coaching skills approach.