It’s Time to Stop Rewarding Toxic Rockstars

February 13, 2023

While they may be highly skilled and talented at their jobs, toxic rockstars can have a damaging impact on the overall work environment. These employees may exhibit disruptive or difficult behavior, and may prioritize their own success over the success of the team or the organization.

Their toxic behavior can lead to decreased morale and productivity, and can even have negative effects on the culture of the company. It is important for businesses to recognize and address toxic behavior in order to create a positive and healthy work environment for all employees.

What is a Toxic Rockstar?

Toxic rockstars are employees who are highly skilled or talented in their work, but who also have a negative impact on their colleagues or the overall work environment. They may be disruptive or difficult to work with, and may engage in behaviors that are damaging to morale or productivity.

Toxic rockstars may be arrogant or egotistical, and may prioritize their own success over the success of the team or the organization. It is important for companies to recognize and address toxic behavior in the workplace, as it can have a negative impact on the culture of the organization and the well-being of its employees. Research have shown that toxic cultures cost US businesses almost $50B each year. Yet, companies are still tolerating them.

Why Are Companies Tolerating Toxic Rockstars?

There can be several reasons why companies might tolerate toxic rockstars in the workplace. One reason might be that the employee is seen as being too valuable to the organization, due to their high level of skill or talent.

In these cases, the company may feel that the benefits of retaining the employee outweigh the negative impact of their toxic behavior. Another reason might be that the company is unaware of the full extent of the employee's toxic behavior, or that it is not being effectively communicated to management.

In some cases, the company may be aware of the behavior but may not know how to address it or may be hesitant to confront the employee due to their perceived importance to the organization. It's also possible that the company has a culture that tolerates or even rewards toxic behavior, which can make it more difficult to address.

What Should Leaders Do Instead

Set Clear Expectations

It is important for leaders to clearly communicate their expectations for appropriate behavior in the workplace. This can involve creating a code of conduct or other guidelines that outline the values and behaviors that are expected of employees.

By setting clear expectations, leaders can help to establish a culture of respect and professionalism, which can help to prevent toxic behavior from occurring.

Address Issues as They Arise

When leaders become aware of toxic behavior in the workplace, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible. Ignoring toxic behavior or allowing it to continue can send the message that it is acceptable, and can lead to negative consequences such as decreased morale and productivity.

By addressing issues as they arise, leaders can help to nip toxic behavior in the bud and prevent it from escalating.

Use Coaching and Feedback

Leaders can work with employees who exhibit toxic behavior to help them understand the impact of their actions and to find ways to improve. This may involve providing coaching and feedback on specific behaviors that need to be changed.

Coaching and feedback can be an effective way to help employees understand how their behavior is affecting others and to identify more positive and productive ways of interacting with colleagues.

Use Consequences

If coaching and feedback are not sufficient to address toxic behavior, leaders may need to use consequences such as warnings or disciplinary action. It is important for leaders to be consistent in the use of consequences, and to apply them fairly and consistently across all employees.

Create a Positive Culture

Leaders can also work to create a positive culture in the workplace that is inclusive and supportive. This can involve things like promoting open communication and collaboration, recognizing and rewarding positive contributions, and creating opportunities for professional development.

A positive work culture can help to prevent toxic behavior from occurring, and can create a more enjoyable and productive work environment for all employees.

Companies Should Start Making a Change Today

As there are mounting evidence supporting the need for diversity and culture contribution rather than culture fit, companies need to take action to make the change today. The landscape of work and our understanding of it has changed drastically over the course of the pandemic up till today. If there’s one thing businesses need to learn from this globally shared experience, it’s that businesses that don’t evolve and adapt are destined to fail.

As a remote-first design business, Mad Creative Beanstalk strives for diversity and inclusivity. Our clients range from early-stage startups up to large organizations and they trust us to deliver reliably good quality work consistently. If you want designs that your brand deserves, we’re the design partner for you.

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