Are there people in your organization that are angry, volatile, argumentative, prima-donnas, or in some other way inject your organization with negative emotions? This is as threatening as a wildfire and needs to be extinguished immediately.
The Lifetime series Project Runway feeds my fascination with people that excel; it invites us to watch how people soar and how they crash.
In season 12 there were many demonstrations of how one person’s crash can negatively impact a whole team and why it is critical to eliminate toxic behaviors from your organization. One contestant demonstrated this in several episodes. In this clip from the September 19, 2013 episode he aggressively rages at fellow contestants and staff. In the end he and the other contestant most directly involved in the conflict were the worst performers in the design challenge. This is no surprise as environments charged with negative emotions shut down creativity and cause people to doubt their abilities.
Even if toxic behaviors appear infrequently, do not tolerate them. Doing so sends a message that such behavior is acceptable and encourages it to spread. It also sends a message to others exposed to these behaviors that they are not valued. I can’t stress enough, that such behavior is not to be tolerated from any organization stakeholder, i.e. a key employee, a client, or a vendor.
The best way to prevent this type of wildfire from spreading is to see that everyone models behaviors that clearly reflect the organization’s values. If they spark up first respond quickly to stomp them out by communicating a direct message that such behaviors are not a part of your organization. If the toxic behavior is still inflamed, see if you can identify what fuels the problem and then offer help to preserve the relationship. Unfortunately if the fire cannot be extinguished it is best to end the relationship. This difficult choice presents a valuable example to employees and can help them to soar in unforeseen ways.