Dealing with a Toxic Employee: Choose your own adventure

The email arrived at 7:15 pm. He must have been reviewing it on the train ride home. The CIO opened the email with the subject: How to handle a toxic employee. He had had the meeting just about an hour earlier with his deputy discussing the behaviors of one of their employees. His deputy must have started researching on his way home and so now the email.

The email was an article from Harvard Business Review. How to Manage a Toxic Employee. The CIO read the article and began to draft a plan on how to handle the employee.

A little background about the employee and situation…

The employee: explodes for no apparent reason, bullies co-workers and contractors, acts like someone is always out to get her, appears jealous of her coworkers, the rest of the staff “walks on eggshells” around her not knowing what will set her off, however, technically and organizationally she is a great project manager. She is also able to put on a good customer -facing face not allowing the inner departmental turmoil that she is causing bleed out in front of the customers. The customers in this case are fellow employees that the IT department supports. She was hired to lead the most expensive and critical product the organization was undertaking.

The situation: The team has gone out of its way to welcome her to the group. They had full team outings doing things like lunches, escape rooms, going to conferences. The team threw a party for her solving and launching the first portion of the major project. However, no matter what the team does, it doesn’t seem to work. Take that back, it seems to work for about a day, and then it is right back to walking on eggshells.

The CIO: has already had tough discussions with her about her behavior. The CIO spoke to her about how it was unacceptable when she yelled at the rest of the staff and stormed out of the conference room during a meeting. He had another discussion with her when the behavior persisted and everyone felt as though they needed to walk on eggshells around her. At one point the CIO informed her that she had to make up her mind, she is either part of the team or not and being part of the team means respecting your fellow teammates and being a team player.

The situation continued: This apparently was not enough or the employee mistook the CIO’s kindness and willingness to try and correct her as weakness. She was recently caught yelling at a colleague and trying to keep the colleague from attending a meeting. This was done publicly in front of other colleagues and customers.

I think it is time to let the employee go. What would you do?

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