Toxic people at work

Over the weekend, a couple friends shared some troubles they were having at work.  Both were exactly the same problems: they had been hired into jobs and were working with people who had applied internally for those same jobs.  The people who had missed out were being … well, a bit psycho, from the sounds of it.  To the point where formal HR processes were being invoked.

I am always amazed at this sort of thing.  We’ve all been in terrible situations at work.  Luckily I can count them on one hand … but it’s made me think about the effect of toxic people at work and the damage they do.  Fallon advertising (or so I hear) had a basic rule that kept them going through good times and bad: Fire all the assholes.  Absolutely right.

In my experience, for the most part, the toxic people eventually do themselves in professionally unless management is very ineffective. But it isn’t pleasant for anyone while it’s happening.

I wonder … do the toxic people know they are toxic? Somehow I don’t think they do.  These are people who literally wake up and on the way to work think about things like….

“I have to make my business development targets to get my bonus.  Who’s opportunity can I wedge myself into to hit my numbers?”

“That John is doing well at the moment.  I need to make a point of cutting him down to size in the next meeting we have.”

“I don’t get enough respect in the office for my not insignificant talents.  I need to talk over people more to show how smart and experienced I am.”

“I need to make an effort to get close to Sue so she thinks I like her, so I can get information I need to get ahead.”

Yeah, office politics are everywhere, and you do need to be able to  navigate.  And I don’t consider myself an exceptionally self-confident person (though others might beg to differ!), but I wonder to what degree all this has to do with our old friends self-esteem and fear?



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