Toxic Employees and How to Manage Them


In everyday life and at work, we sometimes have to deal with manipulative, draining, non-supportive, or, in one word, toxic people. Their negative attitude, over-reactiveness and tendency to misinterpret invites drama and makes it difficult to handle even regular situations.

It’s not always an option to completely avoid communication with toxic people. Especially at work, where they can be stellar employees and still negatively influence work environment and undermine teamwork. However, their toxicity can and needs to be managed.

We’ll now go through the main types of toxic employees and some tips on how to manage them better:

Toxic Employees and How to Manage Them

Types of Toxic Employees

The Vampire

A vampire is the person who’s egoistic, draining and often manipulative. They usually are negativistic and pessimistic, and tend to focus on problems – not on solutions. All this sucks positivity out of everyone around, and creates negative environment.

Team and project managers should spot such behavior early on. Don’t expect that they will change their attitude, but try to influence their behavior. Point out to them that their negativism and manipulation is unprofessional and disruptive for work environment.

The Pretender

The Pretender is not so harmful for work environment – but it is the type that undermines trust on the team.

Keeping themselves busy throughout the day, bragging about their achievements (not necessarily above the average) and pretending to be engaged and work hard, the Pretender is in fact unlikely to make an extra effort to get work done.

What’s more, when other employees realize what a person like that is doing, their work life will seem harsh and unfair in their eyes and they might begin slacking too.

Such employees can be monitored with a tracking tool. You need to make sure they are focused on the task at hand during work hours. Don’t be afraid to give them feedback, set clear expectations and start demanding more from them.

The Social Butterfly

This is a person who seeks every possible opportunity to interact with others – mostly not about work.

The benefit of having a social butterfly on your team is that this person tends to organize various events outside working hours. But, they also tend to distract others from their work, make jokes, and usually causing drama by gossiping and prying into everyone’s business.

It’s time to set some boundaries. A one-on-one meeting with the social butterfly is a must. You should let them know they are being unprofessional and distracting – especially if they tend to spread gossip.

The Smartest Person in the Room

Another type of a toxic employee is The Smartest One, who never forgets to point out their intellectual superiority. And while there’s wrong about just being smart, toxic behavior appears when arrogance and condescendence start affecting communication on the team. This can be disruptive for work environment and impair relationships between team members.

To prevent that, have a talk with this type of employee and point out that friendly and supportive communication is crucial for healthy work environment and trust on the team, which are, in their turn, important for achieving team’s goals.

The Tank

Just like a real tank, this person crushes everything that gets in their way – or at least tries really hard to do that. They push their opinions and decisions even if they don’t have standing to, tend to be arrogant, and see every situation as a challenge where they can win or lose.

Again, team manager should set boundaries and, if necessary, explain to this person basic steps of work process and decision making that everyone needs to follow.


Managing toxic people is usually challenging, but thankfully there are ways to handle toxic behavior at the workplace and improve work environment. Knowing the types of toxic employees mentioned above will help you deal with the situation you’re facing.

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