Editor’s note: The following consists of a conversation between RCS Multimedia Manager Megan Ellsworth, and 1st Choice Roofing’s Operation Officer Mandy McIntyre. You can listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.
Megan Ellsworth: Hello everyone. My name is Megan Ellsworth back again here at rooferscoffeeshop.com. And I'm with Mandy McIntyre. And we're talking about toxic employees today. So this is kind of a hot topic, and I'm really excited to hear what you have to say, Mandy. So this month's question for April, 2022 is how do you deal with toxic employees?
Mandy McIntyre: So I love this question because it comes up in every business. It just does. And we've had our fair share of "toxic employees." And the thing is though, I do think that the term toxic is interpretive.
Megan Ellsworth: For sure.
Mandy McIntyre: So what one person may deem toxic someone else may not. So I think before jumping to any quick decisions or conclusions, I think it's important to assess that person in their role and who is their manager, because a lot of times someone who appears to be a toxic employee, that really may be just a symptom of a greater problem. Managers can create toxic employees very, very easily.
Megan Ellsworth: Oh, say that again for the people in the back.
Mandy McIntyre: Well, managers can create toxic employees so easily. And what the problem is that if someone is deemed a toxic employee, they might be going through hell with their manager and hate where they're at. So they simply just don't care. So I think it's just so important to just assess holistically the entire organization. Is this person in the right role? Do they even know their job description? Are expectations set? Because if they're not meeting expectations that they're not even aware of, that's not their problem.
That's the company's problem, their manager's problem. And this is just something I've learned throughout the years being a manager, because managing people is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Truly. Because every personality is a little different. You have to become somewhat of a chameleon and manage different people to bring out the best in them. It's really not a one size fits all approach in my history as a manager and in my just experience. So when I hear the term toxic employee, I kind of cringe a little bit because I think that is an easy finger pointing thing to say, without addressing, A, the company culture, B, their manager and the whole situation. So that's like one side of it.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Wow. Yes.
Mandy McIntyre: You know?
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.
Mandy McIntyre: I think another side, if you have somebody who you had talks with, they've been coached and trained, the expectations are set, and they're just like a cancer in the company, obviously the best approach is to... when you have cancer, what do you do? You eliminate it because a truly toxic employee, and again, toxic in the terms of, we've done everything we can to support this person and they continue to not align with the company values and whatnot. That person...and I'm using the cancer analogy, because it's just the easiest one, it spreads. And then before you know it, it's just grown into this greater force within the company.
Megan Ellsworth: Right.
Mandy McIntyre: But again, I really think that the biggest toxic issue in any company is bad management. And there's just a lot of leaders out there who are good at what they do, but they're not good at managing people. And that creates bad employees and it just keeps perpetuating the problem.
Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Absolutely. So if, let's say a roofing contractor thinks they have a toxic employee and turns out maybe it is a manager, what do you suggest that owner do?
Mandy McIntyre: I would suggest the owner has a discussion with the manager as far as why they feel this "toxic employee" is that way and what have they done to support that person and what have they done to really create an environment for them to thrive, if that makes sense. Because I think it takes a lot of self-reflection and self-awareness, and I talked about this in a previous podcast. When you're a manager or an owner of a company, you have to continually check your ego, work on self awareness, work on all these tactics because that's a trickle down effect. So I think a business owner, first, should probably look at themselves to be honest.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.
Mandy McIntyre: Really, that would be the first step. You need to look at yourself. "Is there anything that I'm doing that's creating an environment that would cause this behavior?" And then from there, you kind of redirect, "Well, no. I know I'm working on these things. I know I'm not perfect, but I'm working on these things." Or maybe you have these freak outs throughout the day and you're yelling at people and you're making poor choices and you're demonstrating poor leadership. Well, that's going to create poor managers and that's going to create poor performing "toxic employees".
Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Yeah. Wow. Well said. Every time you just hit it out of the ballpark with a perspective that no one else has had yet with these responses. I just love how your brain works and it's so great.
Mandy McIntyre: Thank you. I really appreciate that. Well, I'm a big observer and I'm really into the human psyche. And I think a lot of people go for the most obvious and most of the times it's not the case. Most of the time what people think is a problem is really just a symptom of a bigger problem. So you try to manage a symptom or fix a symptom, but the root of the problem still exists. So you're not really fixing anything. You know what I mean?
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Just a Band-Aid.
Mandy McIntyre: Yeah. Yeah. And I love these questions because they make me think and I like thinking about this kind of stuff. So thank you.
Megan Ellsworth: Yes, of course. Well, thank you for that great response. And we will be chatting with you in May. And I look forward to hear what you have to say then.
Mandy McIntyre: Yes. Thank you so much.
Megan Ellsworth: Thanks.
Mandy McIntyre is the operations officer at 1st Choice Roofing Company. See her full bio here.
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