Should You Detoxify Your Business?

If you haven’t noticed, the airways are filled with advertisements to join a gym to get into shape or to start a diet.

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. Losing weight means ridding your body of unhealthy toxins.

One of the key responsibilities of the owner of a business is to set a positive tone, lead by example and to use real-life examples to teach employees what is expected in the workplace.

This is not always easy to do, and it is more difficult when the business has relationships that are toxic and damaging. This can be with vendors, clients and employees.

Almost every company has suppliers who should not be in a relationship with your company. This is a supplier who fails to deliver what is needed, when it is needed, where it is needed, in the agreed upon condition and a price that works for both parties.

Some years back, in a meeting with a buyer in Bentonville, Arkansas at Sam’s Club, I was told that Sam’s was growing at 30 percent annually and our company’s products were growing at a lesser rate. We were given one year deadline to increase sales to match their rate of growth or displacement would occur.

Until we corrected the situation we were considered a toxic vendor. I give Sam’s credit for providing the opportunity to make the necessary changes to become a better vendor.

Many toxic clients also exist. Unfortunately, owners usually don’t have the same vision or hearing that people who deal with clients every day do.

This means that everyone but the owner tolerates demanding, selfish clients. It is often only by happenstance that the owner learns about the constant burdens placed on the company.

At least once a year, every client should be reviewed. While this ranking exercise should be done on volume, revenue, gross profit and net profit, it should also be performed based on the “hassle factor.”

Clients should either be eliminated or pay more for the anguish they cause your company.

Toxic employees can exist at every level. Many of these individuals see themselves as hardworking and dedicated and do not realize the negative impact they have. These are people who are negative about life and work, gloomy and angry; sarcastic; more concerned about everyone and anything else than about the job they are on the payroll to do.

These employees are expensive; they not only receive a paycheck, but they are typically disengaged, under-performing, high-maintenance, and require additional supervisory time to keep them on track.

Don’t know how to identify them? These same employees have a lack of respect towards co-workers; create and spread gossip and encourage dissension; are usually lacking energy or enthusiasm toward assigned tasks, and often have demonstrated poor manners while always questioning authority because they believe, mistakenly, that policies and procedures do not apply to them.

Even in the best companies, where regular performance evaluations are conducted by experienced supervisors, having a conversation with a toxic employee about attitude, behavior and conduct is not easy. It is often only discussed when a breaking point is reached. Sometimes this never happens and the toxic employee continues on, unchecked.

Just because a toxic environment exists today does not mean it has to be present tomorrow. As the owner, your role is clear: be the catalyst for taking action to eliminate the toxins from your company.

You will feel better in no time and your company will run a lot better too.