10 Strategies for Dealing with a Toxic Teammate

You’re stuck with a toxic team member. You wish they were gone but you don’t have the power to eject them. Now what?

toxic frog

10 strategies for dealing with toxic teammates you can’t eject:

  1. Respect their power to destroy. A toxic person can obstruct progress, hinder careers, pollute teams, and sabotage projects. Stay close to them. Befriend them.
  2. Move them to the sidelines as much as possible. Keep toxic people “busy” doing things that won’t damage others. Don’t put toxic people on teams or assign them to projects that really matter.
  3. Corral toxic people. If you have several toxic people that you can’t expel, cage their toxicity by putting them all on the same team. Don’t spread them around. Bad is stronger than good. One toxic person has more power to do damage than several healthy people have to do good.
  4. Reassign toxic people to roles where they might make significant contribution.
  5. Team them up with someone who compensates for their weakness.
  6. Ignore them and tell everyone else to do the same. (Show good manners but minimize their negative impact.)
  7. Listen to their input but don’t give them decision-making power,  except on insignificant matters.
  8. Confront them. Try one-on-one first. If one-on-one confrontation doesn’t work, try a group intervention.
  9. Don’t fear them. Keep delivering great results. Don’t let toxic people be the reason you hold back.
  10. Spend most of your time with teammates who are engaged and committed.

Bonus: Fill power-positions with people who have high levels of buy-in and who understand the danger and damage of toxic team mates.

You may not have the power to eject a toxic team member, but you have the power to do something.

How can leaders deal with toxic team members that they can’t get rid of?

**The Dictionary for Leaders series starts again on Monday with “E’s” for leaders. Add yours here.