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On Toxic Team Members

Why You Need to Keep Toxic People Out of Your Team

Toxic does not mean they don't smile

Don't underestimate this! Having toxic people around is worse than you might think. It's not just that they're negative or challenging to deal with. The real problem is how they make you and everyone else focus on the wrong things. Toxic people typically complain about everything, especially things they cannot influence or don’t want to change or influence.

It's about what you focus on

Toxic individuals have a unique talent for warping our mindshare and perspective. They don't just bring negativity; they fundamentally alter the way we think, often forcing us to dwell on matters that hold little to no importance in the grand scheme of things. They can make us ponder over issues from unproductive angles, leading us down a rabbit hole of inefficiency and pessimism.

The problem is that it may not be fully obvious at first. We will use excuses like - he/she is having a bad day or everyone complains sometimes. Then, you will think that you are immune to negativity as the optimistic person you are. And then, when you start noticing all the negative signs from across the team, it might be already too late.

I'm not saying that everyone who complains about something is a toxic person. Far from it. Pointing out things that can be improved or are not working is a natural part of doing great work. It's about your approach to these issues - do you want to change them, improve them? Then it's ok.

There's a science to prove it

It's a scientifically proven fact that if you're around helpless-kind of negativity too much, your work and the quality of what you do will start going downhill. For instance, a study published in the "Journal of Applied Psychology" (Felps, Mitchell, and Byington, 2006) demonstrates how one toxic team member can significantly reduce the team's overall performance and satisfaction.

For founders and team leaders, this is not just about managing a problematic personality; it's about safeguarding the team's collective focus, creativity, and productivity. This shift in culture can be particularly detrimental in environments that rely on innovation and collaboration, as it stifles creativity and discourages risk-taking. Which is basically everything you and I do.

Don't sleep on the signs

My conclusion, based on my personal experience and reading a lot of research and opinions around the topic, is that the danger of toxic individuals in any collaborative effort lies not in the immediate negativity they bring, but in their ability to divert collective focus and energy away from productive and meaningful pursuits. And at first, it might be hard to spot.

But for a founder, recognizing and addressing this threat is crucial to maintain a healthy team environment. We all want to support a culture where attention and energy are directed toward problem-solving, constructive collaboration and innovation. That's what a team of awesome individuals deserves. Let's not have it spoiled.

I hope this was just a reminder to watch out for negative folks and it does not effect you or your team. If you liked it - bring your friends - they may love it! Feel free to collect this writing too!

Find me as BFG (aka BrightFutureGuy) on socials and let's connect!
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