Afraid to terminate Toxic Tom? Don't be! He's replaceable. Here's how.


stressed executiveYears ago a successful executive coach and personal friend shared a story about a coaching assignment he turned down. His client, a major bank, asked him to work with one of their vice presidents, Toxic Tom. “He's one of our top performers,” they said. “We consider him to be crucial to our success going forward. He has one minor flaw we'd like you to work on with him. He has been known to slap subordinates when he is upset with them.”

 My friend turned down the assignment and advised client to refer Tom for psychological counseling rather than coaching.

When I asked why they would possibly tolerate this behavior, my friend responded, “They were afraid they wouldn’t be able to find someone who could produce the same numbers he did.”  

Granted, this is an extreme case of allowing good performance trump toxic behavior. Toxic behavior takes all shapes. While generally subtler than physically slapping coworkers or subordinates, the negative effect toxic behavior has on your team’s total performance can be just as dramatic. Tolerating toxic behavior sends a message: "as long as I'm hitting my numbers I can do pretty much anything I want."  

What about you?  

Do you have a high performing Toxic Tom on your team?

  • Has he failed to respond to coaching conversations about improving his behavior?
  • Are you tolerating his behavior because you’re afraid you can’t replace him?

Our experience shows the best way to deal with toxic behavior is to refuse to tolerate it, up to and including terminating the employee. “But I'm expected to hit numbers, if I fire him, I won’t be able to find someone who can match Tom’s performance,” you respond. "And if it could take forever to search for his replacement.”

You’ve had it with Tom. Even though he is hitting his numbers, his behavior is affecting your team's morale. Its causing conflicts with Toxic Tom's coworkers that consume your time. You know in the long run you will be better off without him, but you're letting your fear of failing to replace him trump his poor behavior.

How can Dise & Company's Executive Recruiting Team help?

You are a busy executive. You don’t have time or experience to conduct a dedicated, focused executive search for Tom’s replacement. Your day is filled with a myriad of tasks (including dealing with Toxic Tom).

The solution is to engage the professional Executive Search firm, Dise & Company, to conduct a confidential search for Tom’s replacement before you terminate him. Dise & Company will identify a slate of highly skilled candidates for you to consider. You will experience little or no interruption of your business and you'll get a high performing replacement for Toxic Tom.    

Finding high performing talent is our full time job. When you engage us, you will have, not just one recruiter, but a team of experienced and successful professionals combing the market place to find the best available talent. This shortens the time it takes to get the best talent with the right management style and cultural fit for your organization.

Executive Search


Tagged With: Executive Search, Expert Knowledge

Greg Reynolds

Greg is an experienced human resources executive who assists clients in recruiting key talent, building organizational bench strength and optimizing workforce performance by enhancing leadership skills. He is skilled in creating outplacement services that meet the needs of both organizations and individuals affected by reductions in force. His clients have ranged from small businesses to Fortune 100 organizations in the public and private sectors. He has deep experience in service, industrial, non profit, and technology environments.