We got a call from a prospective client saying, “There’s a partner in our firm that is toxic. He brings in big bucks, so he adds a ton of financial value to the organization. But he’s mean to people, and we’ve had a lot of turnover because of it. The other partners wanted to know if Dale Carnegie can do a workshop for our employees so they can learn how to deal with him better.”
“WHAT!!??” Our consultant exclaimed. “You want THEM to ‘deal’ with HIM!!??”
Ok, he didn’t say that (even though he was thinking it). He simply explained that the first step is to work with that individual. Otherwise, they will be wasting money with us.
The person we were talking to wasn’t a decision maker, just a messenger calling around for quotes. What shocked us the most about this situation was the lack of courage among the other partners in the company to take a stand.
I understand that no one wants to lose a rainmaker. But I also know from experience that holding onto a high performer that is toxic to the company culture costs more than they bring in, in the long run. Turnover costs, depending on the study you look at, between 1.5 and 5X a person’s annual salary.
Marshall Goldsmith said, “after living with their dysfunctional behavior for so many years, people become invested in defending their dysfunctions rather than changing them.”
It’s the responsibility of senior leadership to hold up a mirror to toxic high-performers, and set a standard of behavior and team-member treatment that everyone in the company can be proud of.
If you have a toxic high-performer, who isn’t aware of the damage he/she is doing to the rest of the team, and to their own careers, click here for a perfect first step.