When it comes to a company’s assets, talent is the most valuable—and also the most difficult to replace. A great hire can encourage innovation and lead your team to greater success. A wrong hire can wipe out morale and kill productivity.
Most businesses have come across a toxic hire or two, and these employees probably cost you more than you know. As an eight-time CEO, Fred Mouawad, founder of the task and management platform Taskworld, knows a thing or two about identifying problem employees.
Take a look at the six employees Mouawad warns most strongly against bringing on board.
1. The Self-Crowned King of Ethics
These employees are also called “the tattletale” because they typically enjoy complaining about others. They'll be the first to tell management about co-workers coming in late, leaving early or not working hard enough.
“In general, employees who like to point out what others are doing wrong are often trying to hide their own unethical behavior,” Mouawad says. “They try to divert attention from their own flaws. People who are honest have no reason to tout their honesty around the organization—those who are honest don’t need to mention it, and do the right things naturally.”
The self-crowned king of ethics can ruin trust and morale. This employee isn't a team player and will never pick up the slack for colleagues. Even if your company is full of strong leaders and exceptional talent, they'll eventually need to come together to form an unbeatable team. The self-crowned king of ethics may not be able to do this and, thus, is unable to help lead your company to success.
2. The Baby
These types of workers are insecure and will go to extreme lengths to hide their shortcomings. Similar to the self-crowned kind of ethics, these employees like to steer attention away from their own faults and are often quick to blame others.
"Such employees are good at highlighting problems, but they're not capable of solving them," Mouawad explains. "They hide their inability to find and implement solutions by lamenting about problems.
"They typically demotivate others, deplete energy and don’t add value," he adds. "What's required are people who identify performance gaps and thrive to find and implement solutions to drive continuous improvements—these are the grown-ups who can improve the world around them. The babies just cry."
Think about it: What good is someone who constantly points out problems but can't be any help finding solutions?
3. The "Yes" Man
This is the employee who thinks that everything—every idea, every existing process, every new suggestion—is brilliant. This person is a risk because they won’t give you the honest advice your company needs to grow.
While the "yes" man may appear pleasant and capable, their biggest fault is that they'll only tell you what you want to hear. They're incapable of discussing challenges and, because of this, they'd rather quietly suffer even as the problems become more damaging. These types of employees destroy company value and are detrimental to any organization.
4. The Joy Sponge
The joy sponges are those employees who feel they need to always be the center of attention and make sure that no one is happier than they are. These employees may explain that they're simply trying to be cautious or realistic, but their behavior actually destroys teams.
"Energy in the workplace is highly contagious," Mouawad says. "Those who exude positive energy can energize others to enhance execution. Those with negative energy are more dangerous, as negative energy is five times more powerful than positive energy."
Since negative energy tends to affect us more, we also have a tendency to remember negative employees more than those with positive energy.
5. The Know-It-All
We all know these types: They refuse to listen to anyone else's opinions or ideas because they always believe their ideas are the best. According to Mouawad, you should get rid of these employees immediately.
"If people think they have all the answers, they usually stop growing," he notes. "They become complacent and don’t spend enough time trying to find the best answer to a problem. They stop researching and become less inquisitive. When that happens, it affects judgment, and [they] become more shallow and more prone to errors. We think we know it, and therefore conclude superficially."
6. The One Who Won’t Change
If an employee can't change after a negative habit or behavior has been brought to their attention, let them go—for their sake, as well as for your company’s.
"The key to growth is the ability to learn and adapt. Those who stagnate cannot move forward—their performance can only decline over time," Mouawad says. "It’s not the strongest species that survive but those who are able to adapt to their environment. If damaging behaviors can't be improved, it’s best to let go rather than persist in changing people."
Hiring the wrong person can set a company back years and cost you more money than you'd think. It’s not always an obvious issue, like someone stealing money, that posses a threat. The employees who are most devastating to any business are the ones who don't play by the rules because they don't want to be part of your team.
Read more articles on hiring & firing.
This article was originally published on October 9, 2014.