Momentum Podcast: 321

Dealing With A Toxic Top Producer

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

The toxic top producer will destroy your team faster than anybody else. When you have a top producing team member that's treating other people in a negative way and you don't stop it happening, you're telling your team firstly, it's acceptable behavior and, secondly, if you are a top performer it's okay to be a jerk. This will destroy trust amongst you and your team and rob you of momentum. You cannot leave a person in place who is working against you and your culture.

Full Audio Transcript

I know you want to make a difference, a change, an impact in the world. In order to do that you're going to build a team. But, if you have someone toxic on your team, especially someone who's a top producer, it will destroy your ability to build a cohesive team and get into momentum.

Last week, we had one of our Billionaire Code Summits here in town, and it was absolutely extraordinary. We had over 60 people, and it was amazing to see. This event was just so much more incredible than the last one because we had a lot of people here this month and September that were here last June. And when you look at June, July, August, September, it's only three or four months since our last event, and to see the difference that people were making, to see the impact that they were making. I mean we had businesses go from a million dollars to five million dollars. So many people in the room were having their record month, and why? Because they're all building cohesive, adaptable teams that support each other.

Cadey and I on the last night, we ended up having a conversation. My wife and I had a conversation with one of our clients. I won't share their name because this is a sensitive situation. But, they pulled us aside and they said, "Hey, We've got this issue in our business. One of the main people in the business, one of the main producers in the business is absolutely toxic. She's calling our other team members idiots. She refers to people in a really rude way. All of the customer complaints we're getting are from her. She's mean. She makes everyone feel tense. But, she's our top producer in the business. She brings in more revenue than any other individual. What do we do?

My answer was immediate, and it was 100% confident. "You get rid of her as fast as you possibly can. Here's why. The toxic top producer will destroy your team faster than anybody else. And if it doesn't destroy the entire team here's what it will do, it will destroy any trust your team has in each other and in you. Here's why. I call this sanctioned incompetence. Here's what this means, if you have anyone in your company that isn't acting the way you want them to, supporting your culture, doing everything that you want them to, and you let it happen without correction then you are sanctioning that incompetence. And sanction is the same as approval. When you don't make a difference you are approving their behavior.

And so, when you have a top producing team member that's treating other people on the team in a negative way here's what you are telling your team. One, the negative behavior's okay, and two, if you perform you can be a jerk. And that more than anything else on the team will destroy trust, rob you of momentum, and here's the most important thing, it doesn't matter what a top producer they are they're going to remain the top producer because you will not attract other top producers and A players in an atmosphere where someone is behaving in a toxic way.

Here's why. After a while the only people that will stay in a business that's toxic are the one's who like to be abused. I know that sounds judgemental, but they're out there. They're real. I've seen it my entire career. And if you're in a world, in a business where you don't want people who like to be abused, where you want to go to the cultural where people feel supported, where you want people to be excited to come to work, where you want them to act in a way that they support each other, and that they're growing, and that your business is adaptable, and you're growing a culture of performance, you absolutely cannot leave a person in place that is working against you. You can't leave a person in place that's not supporting a cohesive culture. You can't leave a toxic person in place because your team won't trust you.

When a team is treated in a way that they're talked down to, and they're treated rudely, and they're called names, what they're literally being told is that they aren't as important as the person who's bringing in the revenue. You know what they decide immediate? They're not gonna bring in revenue. You don't get their discretionary efforts. You don't get their discretionary time. They're not gonna be thinking about you when they're driving home from work, or in the shower, or maybe they are. They're only going to be thinking about how do they get out of your business because when people feel pain in their business, or in their job, in the place where they spend most of their time, it is destructive not just to them. I want you to internalize this because if you're building a team it's not just destructive to them. It's destructive to them, to their children, to their spouse, to their friends, to their family, to everyone around them. Because when you have to go into an environment every day where you're treated poorly, where you're not taken care of, where you're called an idiot, I mean I get uncomfortable even saying it, when those things happen it's near impossible to perform at your best.

You will not care about the position that you're in. You're in survival mode. You will always be triggered, on alert, and maybe even in some level of fight or flight. And when that happens you are not at your best. So, if there's one person on your team it doesn't matter how much they're bringing into the company, if they're toxic, if they're mean, if they're treating your people poorly, you are destroying the productivity of everyone else. You are prohibiting your ability to create a culture of performance. And when someone's toxic, when they're triggering the people around them, when they're mean to the people around them they keep everyone in the business on alert and triggered and in fight or flight, and worried, and concerned, and all of that energy takes away from their ability to grow the team.

I've dealt with toxic people my entire career. In fact, there's a practitioner that I've dealt with on the West Coast multiple times, and she's one of the most talented practitioners in the country. She's one of the most talented physicians I know. She's incredible at what she does. Double board certified, amazing person, but she can't talk about her team without being mean. She can't talk about her team without saying how crazy they are, and how dumb their mistakes are, and how stupid it is. She literally uses those words. As a result, I can't even work with her.

When there's an owner who doesn't see the humanity of the people around them, when there's someone on your team that doesn't realize that they're actually part of a team, when there's an entrepreneur who doesn't take care of their team that to me is the most tragic situation in the world. Here's why. I said this several times this week in my class. When you're the CEO of a company, you're one of the top three most important people in a person's life. Everybody wants to argue that with me. What about their mom? What about their dad? What about their kids? What about their wife? Well, do you know what? Other than their wife and kids, or their husband and kids, or their spouse and kids, or significant other, you have more influence over that person's happiness than just about anyone else in the world. You have more influence over that person's momentum than just about anyone else in the world.

Why? Because time is where we get and feel momentum, and they're spending 40 hours a week or more with you. And if they're not getting momentum in their jobs that means the place where they are focusing their most time in a focused way they're not getting momentum, you have more influence on their life than anyone else. I think as CEOs sometimes we don't think about that. In fact, I think for most CEOs, most CEOs go an entire career without even knowing that, without accepting that, without an awareness of the fact that you are that important to the people around you. And when there's someone on your team who isn't treating your team with respect, and communication, and listening to them and understanding what's going on, you break down the most important thing between you as a CEO, and your team in order to create a performance culture, and that's a simple word called trust.

See, as CEOs we have to be able to predict the future, tell our team where we're going, and get them there. Then we have to be able to protect each one of them in their position. Show them what they're accountable for. Show them the scoreboard. Show them that they are winning. Show them clear outcomes. And then we have to create an environment where everybody on the team feels supported and taken care of and safe because when people don't feel those things they will not give their discretionary efforts. They will not put their energy into the position. They will do everything they have to do before they run out of there and go home. But, when someone has clear outcomes, when they feel protected, when they feel safe, when they're getting momentum from their position, you will get discretionary efforts. You will get their ideas. You will get their attention. You will get their love for your business because they're getting momentum from it.

And if you've never been in a business where everyone in the room is thrilled to be there, you don't understand just how empowering and just how amazing that is for every single person in the room. In my businesses there are two policies that every single person hears from me on the way in. The first one is the No Gossip Policy. There is absolutely no gossip in our companies. If you're talking about a problem with somebody who is lateral to you, if you're not pushing a problem upwards, if you're talking to someone about a problem or a person that can't help you fix it, that's gossip. We don't allow it, and we have zero tolerance.

And the second policy everyone hears from me is the Anti-Discrimination Policy. I don't care what is different about a person that joins our company. I don't care what color they are, what religion they are, where they're from, what language they speak, what people they choose to be in a relationship with, what sex they choose to be in a relationship. Whatever they want to do in their lives I support them as a human being. And then I provide a place for them to work where they can put their efforts, and where they can live with a matter of excellence, and live in a way that's excellent. And work in a way that they can show how incredible they are.

And, if you have a toxic environment with a top producer who's making people feel unsafe all of that gets ripped down. So, it doesn't matter who the person is on your team. It doesn't matter how much they bring into the company. It doesn't matter how important they are to the business right now. If there's anyone on your team that is creating a toxic environment and making people feel uncomfortable you have to resolve this right now. And then, if you're a CEO I want you to think when was the last time you thought to yourself, what an idiot? When was the last time you under your breath, or even out loud insulted a member of your team, or when was the last time you were talking to someone else negatively about a member of your team? Because are you ready for this? I want to tell this practitioner this now that I'm thinking abour this. I want to call her and let her know that every time you complain about your team what you're really doing is admitting how terrible a leader you are.

Every time you talk down to about a person on your team what you're really admitting is what a terrible team builder you are. Every time you call someone an idiot, or a moron, or you say they can't get their work done, or you talk down about somebody, or you make them feel uncomfortable you are proving you shouldn't have the business you have. Because in order to be a successful CEO, in order to take your contribution all the way, in order to have the outcomes you want, you have to create an environment where you support the people on your team and you make them feel safe. So, it doesn't matter who it is. If there's someone on your team that's creating an unhealthy, unsafe environment resolve to get rid of them as soon as you possible can.

And, if you're ready to build the game changing team you've always known you could, if you want some support in a membership, and a community around you of people doing the exact same thing, contact us. Go to Answer a few questions. You'll have an opportunity to set up a call with a member of my team. We'll jump on that call and let us show you the options we have available to help you create your game changing company.

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