Every workplace has one: That jerk whose behavior, while not illegal or worthy of firing, just isn’t very nice. We’ve all seen the damage such toxic people can do to morale and productivity.
You need to step in—to correct the offending employee, restore civility and let everyone know that the organization has standards for what is and is not acceptable at work. Here are some steps to take:
Know what you’re looking at. What kinds of behaviors are you dealing with, and why are they not acceptable? Simply coming up with a list of bad behaviors—whether or not you use that list as a disciplinary tool—will give you clarity to know when and how to intervene.
These can include items that affect how you feel and how others feel, but be sure to know the difference.
Share your list. Again, you don’t have to turn your list into a formal code of conduct for it to have an impact. Share it with colleagues or the team and ask for their insight and suggestions. This will raise awareness of the importance of civility and the sorts of behavior we don’t have to tolerate at work.
It can be the beginning of an ongoing process of improving interpersonal relations throughout the organization.
Intervene promptly. When you see someone acting out in a way you don’t want to tolerate, stop him or her right then. Take a second to collect your thoughts and make sure you aren’t acting out of anger, but don’t wait until a “better time” to get your message across.