Poisonous People: The Employees and Partners You Must Avoid

Image: Mike Vande Ven, Jr. / Shutterstock

Although every employer has qualities they look for in new hires, it’s useful to know what character traits you don’t want in team members.

There are some people who are just born with negative attitudes. You can’t change them or their attitude, nor should you waste time and energy trying.

Once negative people join your team it’s a headache to get rid of them. To prevent these people from joining your team in the first place, you need to know what you’re looking for during initial interviews with all potential hires.

This has applications in all areas of your business, from managers to vendors, to business partners and investors, and basically anyone you must depend on to run your business successfully.

Below you’ll find the types of people you need to avoid.

People who like to argue and fight.

There are some people who just love to get in fights, and these are people who you must avoid like the plague. There are some people who only want to criticize everything around them without offering anything positive. On top of that, these people also often get into fights during their social time which does not make your business look good if they happen to be at a neighboring bar where everyone knows everyone else. There are very few upsides to working with people who are, by their nature, argumentative.

Jamal’s take: I once backed out of investing in a nightclub after I sat in on a couple meetings with the partners and noticed everyone was arguing and bickering. They couldn’t get on the same page about anything, it seemed. Conversations that should have taken seconds took hours, because multiple partners just loved to argue. I knew this was going to be trouble from the beginning, so I chose not to get involved with that deal.

Check this out: 5 Things You Have to Think About Before Hiring Family

To be successful, a bar needs fast-moving teams that get things done with the least amount of drama. When it comes to staffing, I don’t even try to work with these kinds of employees. If I find them on my team, I get rid of them as fast as possible, and my eyes are trained to look for this when I’m interviewing people. People who just like to argue make everything around them slower and kill a business from the inside out.

People who gossip.

People who talk negatively behind people’s backs are poisonous to the culture of a business and must be avoided at all costs. A general rule of thumb is if a person is willing to gossip with you about another person, it’s pretty much guaranteed they are also gossiping about you when you aren’t around.

On a deeper level, gossips demonstrate an inability to be trusted with confidential information. In either case, what good does a gossip bring to your team? All they will do is spread false information about other people to watch everyone dance around like puppets. This is adolescent behavior and has no place on a successful team.

People who can’t control their temper.

People with short fuses are to be avoided at all costs. In a business like hospitality, where stress is bound to occur from the day-to-day drama of dealing with staff and guests in the best of times, patience isn’t a luxury, it’s a requirement.

Check this out: Protect Your Money: Why You Must Have Regular Month-end Evaluations

People who are quick-tempered lose their cool often, and in today’s world of social media and video cameras on cell phones, one emotional tirade is all it takes to ruin an entire business’ reputation. You simply can’t afford to be putting out fires because a person on your team lost their cool on another person. Quick-tempered people aren’t an asset to your business, no matter what skills they bring to the table. Unless you like dealing with other people’s drama, stay away from people who can’t control their temper.

People who steal.

Thieves are not to be trusted in the workplace. Even if the theft somehow benefits you (which doesn’t make it right), rest assured that if that person is willing to steal from another person, they’ll eventually steal from you.

That’s why whenever you find someone who steals, even “a little bit,” you must get rid of them right away. This not only cleanses a source of financial loss from your business, it sends a strong message to the rest of your team that theft isn’t tolerated in any form.

Editor's note: It's reported that nearly 75 percent of theft that occurs in workplaces in the United States is time theft. "Buddy punching" is one of the most common forms of time theft, and it requires scheming by and collaborating of at least two employees. To prevent buddy punching, consider the following: a zero-tolerance policy for clocking in, clearly communicated to and agree upon by team members; punches that require complicated (unfortunately) employee-specific passwords; mobile-based GPS tracking and/or geofencing; biometric clocks (check state and local laws before implementing this type of technology). On the more positive side of this issue, consider rewarding team members who exhibit stellar attendance and punctuality during shift meetings.

Check this out: What Gets People Fired: 6 Common Reasons Why People Lose Jobs

Knowing there are swift consequences to stealing changes the culture of a business. Although every team knows stealing is wrong, it’s only the operator who enforces the policy that succeeds in creating a zero-theft environment. You simply can’t work with anyone who’s okay with stealing.

Kevin Tam is an operations consultant with over a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum: from family-owned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale. Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenges each kind of company faces.

He is the author of a book titled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar. He is also a regular writer for Nightclub & Bar, and publisher of the FREE REPORT: Stop Losing Liquor at Your Bar Now - How to Eliminate Theft and Maximize Your Profit.

Kevin continues to write today, providing specialized information directly to nightclub, bar and restaurant owners from his workshops, newsletters and magazine articles. He is also active in the field, operating an inventory auditing practice with Sculpture Hospitality.

Jamal Afzaly is a bar consultant and owner of Lounge Eighteen.

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