Incompetent and lazy employees are easy to spot and fire but there are borderline personality traits and behaviors which are harder to spot and have a cancerous effect on company performance, attitude, and morale.

No one is perfect. Some gossip occasionally, harshly criticize the leadership or employee sometimes, say that’s not my job instead of I am not qualified to do it, blame someone else for under performing themselves, and try to take credit for another’s effort. If someone does this frequently then it is a sign of a corrosive dysfunctional employee who should be fired before such dysfunctional or bad behavior eats away at company performance, attitude, and morale.

Insults, put downs, name calling, ridiculing, and humiliation should be minimal on the job and anyone who relishes and persists in these attacks on employee reputations is not a good fit for the company.

Then there are the marginal lazy ones who do just enough to get by and use phrases such as “you are working too hard and making us all look bad” or “take it easy, what’s the rush?”.

Now a boss or manager is usually in charge of hiring and firing an employee. Whatever gossip there is circulates mostly among the employees and harsh criticism of the boss is seldom done to his or her face. Taking credit for another’s efforts is not always obvious to the boss and personality clashes between employees are also sometimes not that obvious to the one in charge. Further complicating open lines of communication is the difference in managing a handful of employees and twenty or more.

Feedback from a handful of employees is easier to get than from twenty or more so it is easier for a dysfunctional employee to fly under the radar if the boss is in charge of twenty or more employees. What a smart boss may need is one or more trusted long time experienced employees to act as his ears and eyes and inform him or her of any problematic employees. In prison such humans are called rats or spies but in a reputable business or company of large size you may need a handful of trusted informers to help keep track of what is really going on in the company and being held secret from the one in charge.

A boss or manager with emotional intelligence is the ideal with as much one on one communication as possible. The more employees there are the more remote and lesser becomes the one on one contact which is important in many leadership positions. Total reliance on an informer is also not advisable and when informed of a problematic employee the boss should make personal one on one contact and get the facts straight if at all possible before making a decision to threaten or fire a problematic employee.

Whatever the size of the employee count, a good boss or manager will keep as up to date and informed on potential personality problems as is realistically possible whether through personal effort alone or with the help of trustworthy informers. Feedback from trustworthy informers will help spot cancerous employees to be fired before their dysfunctional behavior spreads and starts to destroy company performance, attitude, and morale.

Yes, there are many minimum wage jobs with a high employee turnover where the biggest problem is finding employees who show up on time to work, who don’t do drugs, and who are capable of working hard on a reliable regular basis. This article is not meant as a valid source on how to manage or boss and pinpoint problem employees to be fired in high employee turnover businesses.

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