The Hidden Aspects of Toxic Employees
So many people wrote about toxic employees and whether they are genetically poisonous or became so because of the environment they live in. Are there hidden aspects of toxic employees? I revert to the metaphor of toxic plants in seeking of new perspectives on toxic employees.
Plants become toxic for two main reasons. These are: self-defense and growth. It is the need to grow and defend from herbivores and the like that make plants toxic to varying degrees. Walnut tree poisons other plants to have space for it to grow. Plants use toxic chemicals for self-defense. There is no one particular compound or single factor that creates a poisonous plant. “The degree of danger a poisonous weed represents is a function of the plant’s prevalence, toxicity, and desirability”. The general toxicity of a plant is directly related to the toxin or toxins it contains, the organ or system it affects, and species of animal which ingests it. Toxicity has its own scale as toxicity varies with the plant age, environment, growth needs and other factors.
Some plants are extremely poisonous while young because predators like them while young. Other plants become more toxic as they age. The question that roams my mind is what happens when a young toxic employee is supervised by an old toxic manager? The young employee is afresh and wants to grow very fast and climb the career ladder very quickly. The old boss is a controlling one and doesn't wish to expose his weakness to the young toxic employee. The toxicity of rapid growth mingles with the toxicity of the old employee trying to avoid the risk of having a knowledgeable young employee with fresh knowledge and apprehension of the newest technologies replacing him. We live this scenario. Many organizations are packed with old employees who isolated themselves from the new technological trends. The toxicity of old scholars is in conflict with the toxic aspirations of quick growth. This conflict could be a theme for a movie.
A plant might have each part of it toxic or only some parts such as the leaves. An employee might be wholly toxic or in part. Toxic thoughts, toxic tongues, toxic hearts, toxic feelings, toxic thoughts and toxic spirit are just examples of human toxicity. There is one other form of toxicity which I call "The Camouflaged Toxicity". Some employees tend to give sweet promises, hopes and words when in fact the sweet is only a cover to their intended toxic intentions. When we say an employee is toxic, what then do we mean exactly?
The danger of toxic employees expands their roots and denies other people the opportunity to excel. They become a source for toxic materials. We extract toxins from plants to catch fish, to give one example. Toxic employees may offer their toxic rumors and spread them to "fish" for opportunities. We may do this without being aware of poisoning ourselves. For example, the leaves of the red plant are not toxic when green, but are poisonous when dried.We may "dry up" employees only to turn them toxic.
We tend to make the work environment dry for opportunities and growth. This drying shall turn some employees toxic. We tend to dry opportunities for employees and the more "dried" they feel, the more toxic they become. We tend to over-control employees and threaten them with punishment. No wonder some employees become toxic for self-defense.
Before we blame toxic employees we must first blame the work environment in which we placed them in.