Please Leave!

Published: September 22, 2014

Few organizations can boast 0% disengaged workers in their workplace. Gallup data suggests that about 20% of the country’s workforce is actively disengaged. At minimum, they devote their energy to preventing change. At maximum, they poison the culture with negativity. When an organization commits to a culture of engagement and wellness, the welcome mat for the actively disengaged is removed from the employee entrance. How is this accomplished?

Leaders often struggle with the strategy for eradicating toxic people from the team. They imagine some complex and protracted human resources process where they ultimately get sued for wrongful something-or-other. It’s easier to tolerate the damage to organizational morale and gradually normalize the dysfunction. In most workplaces, it’s surprisingly easy to move disengaged employees along. When the business ecosystem no longer tolerates poisonous, disrespectful, immature, unprofessional behavior, disengaged employees have to either adapt or leave.

If your psychological foundation for self-esteem requires making other people feel small, a workplace culture committed to respect and professionalism no longer feeds your fragile ego. Leaders are advised to allow actively disengaged workers to leave on their own rather than igniting the expensive inertia of a painstakingly slow H.R. discipline policy. Let your toxic employees go put your competitor out of business. Poison people seek poison environments.

Empower health, wellness, innovation, and change. Fuel the momentum of growth. Those aligned with the culture of excellence will sprint to find their seat on the bus. Anyone unwilling to join the vision should be advised to step out of the way.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.