10 Personality Flaws of Dangerous Employees


We’ve all dealt with colleagues who make empty promises to follow up on questions, or who take too much credit for work that isn’t their own. There are bosses who pass blame down to their subordinates, and salespeople who can’t be counted on to back up their products in a crisis. Rather than assuming these run-ins are the exception, these types of behaviors can be traced back to a serious character flaw: a lack of accountability.

When employees behave with a lack of accountability, their actions hurt your bottom line, whether that’s through low personal productivity, negatively affecting morale, alienating coworkers and customers, or something else. The good news is, if you’re vigilant and proactive, you can catch and handle these accountability issues before they grow into ‘customer service problems,’ ‘leadership breakdowns,’ and so on.

In Culture Without Accountability, we examine real-life stories of what accountability looks like and what can go wrong in its absence. It offers a proven process for installing an accountability-based culture—a platform for success in business and in everyday life.

Here are ten types of employees to watch out for:

The cavalier promise-maker

“I’ll make sure I get back to you tomorrow.” For the cavalier promise-maker, it’s easy to promise someone the moon to make themselves look good, but follow-through is a different story entirely.

If someone in your organization fails to meet his commitments more than once or twice, he lacks accountability.

Over time, employees who fit this profile will cause your market share to drop, especially if you operate in the fast-moving consumer goods space. Customers who didn’t receive what was promised will take their business elsewhere, or even worse, take to the Internet to spread the word about their bad experience. These are the employees bad Yelp reviews are made of, and their lack of accountability will sink your business.

The feel-good, tagline-spouter

“We put the customer first.”

“Your best interests are our best interests.”

“We’ll go the extra mile for you.”

Sure, these assurances sound good, but only if they are supported by your employees’ actions. Watch out for individuals who spout platitudes while leaving customers unsatisfied.

The expense account swindler

We all know people who have doctored expense account forms for personal gain. These folks are masters at justifying why they shelled out the company’s money for expensive meals, room service, entertainment, upgraded rental cars, and more. Sure, some of those expenditures may have been aimed at wooing a prospective client, but no one really believes that the only vehicle the rental agency had to offer was a Cadillac Escalade.

In some organizations, expense account swindling is fairly isolated, while in others, it’s an unwritten part of the culture. Either way, this lack of financial accountability needs to stop now. Employees who don’t have a problem lying about their expenses are just as likely to lie about other things, and who knows what that could cost you.

The thunder-stealer

Chances are, this person (or people) in your organization isn’t popular. After all, nobody is fond of a coworker or leader who steals others’ ideas and presents them as her own. Sure, she might say, “Brilliant idea—great job!” to your face, but the next thing you know, she has incorporated that “brilliant idea” into her presentation to the board and claimed all the credit.

If you don’t nip these behaviors in the bud, you’ll lose a lot of great employees who are sick and tired of working with their thunder-stealing colleagues, and you’ll damage your bottom line in the process. Employee turnover is a huge hidden cost of doing business.

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