When a venomous snake bites someone, the person normally becomes impaired or dead if speedy treatment is not received. This is not different from institutions with venomous employees, who if not addressed on time, will render the institution unproductive. Institutions in Namibia have been characterised by poor service delivery or unproductiveness, which could be attributed to some toxic staff members who inject venom into others to disregard the authority or established rules. The workplace environment is considered an environment that should please all who work there, an environment where collaboration and constructive criticism to improve the institution take place. In contrast, some employees have turned workplaces to be places where division is elicited by injecting toxicity into others’ brains for their own ulterior motives.
Additionally, aside from triggering divisions, they engage in behaviour that is harmful to an institution, including either its productivity or people. These are people who typically fail to conduct themselves in a responsible and/or professional manner in the workplace. Their behaviour could be caused by something going on in their personal life which might affect their professional world, or at times pure jealousy at a colleague who had been promoted. This could also be learned behaviours that either come from their personal life and upbringing, low self-esteem, or perhaps they simply lack the emotional intelligence and self-awareness to act in more productive ways. Yet, despite the category into which they fall, toxic employees all have one thing in common: they’re poisoning the well. This is that one person in the team, the bad apple who has nothing positive to say, riles up other team members, and makes work life miserable. I genuinely do not believe that people wake up every day with the intention to act out in a way that is perceived as being difficult, or what is referred to as toxic. They might simply act out in ways that they have experienced themselves or from unfulfilled expectations. A toxic employee is most of the time involved in drama, infighting and personal battles that harm productivity. Their toxicity can be motivated by personal gain (power, money, fame, special status).
Such staff members are unethical and mean-spirited people striving to increase their advantage at the expense of those around them, or trying to divert attention away from their performance shortfalls and misdeeds. They have no loyalty to anyone other than themselves. Or at times, they are always talking behind everyone's back, spreading mistrust. These individuals are poisonous to institutions as they can make their colleagues not only unhappy, but less productive. They create havoc, hurt others, tear down people's confidence, micromanage and erode people's self-reliance and self-confidence, disrupt meetings, backstab or suppress others, brag about qualifications without using it to improve the institution`s productivity, manipulate colleagues to support their dirty tricks, brown-nose the supervisor, gossip in ways that divide and hurt others, being intentionally confrontational, even over trivial matters, spend most of their time finding mistakes in others instead of teaching or working, and are friends of excuses to be absent or dodge an activity while being defensive or shed crocodile tears when confronted for their shenanigans. It becomes dangerous if a toxic employee manipulates the majority of staff members, who believe everything he/she says without questioning his/her motives. While their supervisors might find such staff members insufferable, they may be very good people-pleasers, so they know how to please colleagues to join their club.
A pleasant work environment is what many suspires now, especially after the devastating effects of Covid-19 or the current rising cost of living which is causing mental health issues. It is not just a matter of the institution’s work dynamics being pleasant for the sake of “having a good time”: if the atmosphere is tense or toxic in a lasting way, the psychological well-being of staff deteriorates, performance worsens, and everyone loses out when these consequences can usually be avoided. Like digging out a weed before it can spread, it's up to productive and ethical staff members to eschew toxic employees before they disrupt workflow and damage morale. There is a saying “show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”, because those who entertain toxicity are themselves guilty of the act. Therefore, those who are guilty of poisoning their colleagues should start realising that they are the contributor to their institution`s poor performance.