What To Do If Your Employees Are Sucking The Life Out Of You

Are you cutting corners to avoid those employees who are making your life–and your business–miserable? Follow these four steps to breathe life back into your organization.


Are you feeling exhausted these days? Have you considered resigning from the company you founded? Welcome to the “Vacuum Club,” where employees suck the life out of their companies. The end result can be devastating for businesses.

I recently facilitated a session at a Family Business Center, where a participant boldly shared with us how his employees were sucking the life out of him. As I probed further, it became crystal clear that it wasn’t all his employees who were causing him stress; it was two people. It’s amazing how much discomfort and disruption a handful of employees can cause, especially in a small business.

It’s tough doing business in today’s economic environment, and even more challenging when you’re exhausted. It’s time to take back your workplaces. Here’s how you can prevent employees from sucking the life out of you.

  1. Hire superstars:  “A” players are focused on moving the organization forward. Most are self-motivated and are too busy to complain about every little thing. They leave that job to the “C” players.
  2. Address the issue head on:  Most toxic employees don’t wake up one day and decide they are going to make your life miserable, even though that may be your perception. Many have no idea their behavior is causing stress in the organization. Point out the observed behavior and ask them how they intend to correct the situation.
  3. Stop being so nice:  This person may have helped you build your business, but now they are tearing it down one brick at a time. A slow death is more painful than a quick one. It’s time to toughen up, as these toxic situations usually seep into the rest of the organization.
  4. Remove the cancer:  You can come up with a hundred different reasons why you can’t fire this guy. Yet, how many of these reasons are really valid? Take action, before these toxic people become the norm, rather than the exception.

Doing nothing is not an option, as it won’t be long before these people clean out your organization. Here’s what I mean by this: Tension causes stress. People have enough stress in their lives that they aren’t looking for more at work. Good employees will seek a work environment where it actually feels good to come into work every day.

You may think that employers have the upper hand, as great jobs don’t come easy to most. But you’d be wrong. We are beginning to see waves of good employees running in packs like wildebeests crossing the plains. One employee finds a great employment opportunity, and the others soon follow.

You deserve to be happy at work, and so do your people. Take action before all the air is sucked out of your organization.


Author Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions ( and author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta’s monthly newsletter, HR Matters. Register today for Roberta’s free Profitability Accelerator Teleconference Series.

[Image: Flickr user Lotus Carroll]


About the author

For more than 25 years, Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including Best Buy, New Balance, The Boston Beer Company and small to medium-size businesses, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is known world-wide as “The Talent Maximizer®.” Roberta, a leading authority on leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty, is the author of the top-selling book, Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2011), a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book For Leaders