Curing Toxic Co-workers

Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Monday, October 23, 2023
Curing Toxic Co-workers

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If you've ever had a job with a toxic co-worker, you know how debilitating that can be. They bring everyone else down to their level and destroy employee engagement, creating a disengaged state of their lowest common denominator.

In any team activity, the weakest member drags the entire group's performance down to their level.

Toxic co-workers do that at a professional level.

Types of Toxicity

The toxicity and degradation of the team can come from several possible sources. Perhaps you have a co-worker that doesn't pull their own weight. Are their skills below what's required? They may feel just as exasperated as you do with their struggle to keep up. Perhaps some training can help.

Let's not forget the Peter Principle1. Sometimes you find yourself reporting to someone who was promoted to their own particular level of incompetence. This can come about because of nepotism or unconscious biases (the bias in their favor may be quite deliberate).

Not all forms of disengagement in a co-worker are permanent. Life happens to all of us and the individual might be going through a tough time outside of work. Are they suffering the effects of long Covid? Maybe they have a new financial strain at home, or perhaps they are taking care of a sick child or loved on.

These situations can temporarily drag someone down, and like stepping in something unpleasant before entering the building, they track it everywhere they go. They may not be aware it's happening, but if they are, they most likely don't want to be letting everyone else down.

Some people are fully qualified to do the job but have brought with them personal baggage that prevents them from acting in a competent or positive manner in your organization. Did they work for a competing company or perhaps even another branch within the same organization? Sometimes rivalries carry forward and can be difficult to shed.

You never know how dysfunctional a co-worker's previous job was, and some emotional baggage is difficult to shed.

Toxicity can exist in layers. Your fellow team member might be great but they are having conflict with the team's leader or someone else higher up the chain of command. Workplace harassment is bad enough for the individual themselves, but the drama can also bleed over to others like a form of collateral damage.

The Most Common Cause of Toxic Co-workers

Perhaps the most common source of toxic co-workers comes about when they are psychometrically ill-suited to the needs of the role.

Your toxic co-worker might be well qualified from a functional standpoint, but their personality type just doesn't align with the position's requirements.

Imagine a highly creative and free-thinking person finding themselves in a job that requires an analytical and methodical mind. They're not going to have a good time showing up to work every Monday, and because of that, their co-workers won't, either.

The Value of Psychometric Alignment

How can psychometric disparity between worker and role be avoided?

The first step to making sure workers are psychometrically aligned to their role is to determine the specific psychometric needs of the position. The best tool for this is a Top Performer Profile from

Following a structured process, the requirements and tasks of the position are defined from the perspective of its ideal psychometric profile. The output from a TPP is the set of Core Values Index psychometric assessment scores an ideal candidate should have.

A candidate with the same or nearly similar CVI scores as the role's TPP profile would have a high likelihood of success in that role.
Data from eRep's years of experience implementing TPPs for clients across the country in practically every industry has shown that workers with highly aligned CVI scores to their role's Top Performer Profile often outperform their unaligned peers by 200% or more, and experience 50% or lower turnover.

Can individuals use their Core Values Index psychometric assessment results to improve their own job satisfaction? Yes.

How Does the CVI Work?

The CVI provides you with reliable and accurate information about your personality type. Instead of measuring aptitude, the CVI describes the way you see the world and prefer to operate within it. This lens, as we call it, determines in large part the type of activities, both personal and professional, that will make you happy.

→ The CVI is the world's most accurate psychometric and personality assessment, with 97.7% repeat reliability in longitudinal studies.
If you find the job that makes you happy, you're more likely to be successful. It really is that simple.

What if you suspect your disengaged co-worker isn't psychometrically aligned to the needs of their role? What if they are a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? Tell them about the CVI (tell their supervisor, too). When they read their report, don't be surprised if you hear them nodding their head and saying, "That makes a lot of sense" and "Now I understand why..."


[1] The Peter Principle

Core Values Index™ and CVI™ are trademarks of Taylor Protocols, Inc.

Go to to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.

Employees hired with a CVI that closely matches a Top Performer Profile often outperform candidates hired without a TPP match by 200% or more. → Learn more

Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (, and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.

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