13 Bad Employee Traits (Clear Signs To Let Them Go)

If you have ever worked at any organization or company as a manager or an employee, you must have met problem employees.

It’s no more a secret that good and bad employees are a part of every organization. Although the ratio of bad employees is low, but bad employees ruin good employees too.

Most of the time, bad employees aren’t destructive by nature, some need guidance and coaching, and they will improve over time.

So instead of labeling (that you should never do), you should prioritize handling difficult employees and making them loyal to the company.

I have already shared 3 steps formula to manage any disobedient employee.

But sometimes, you hire the wrong employees who are resistant to change. They cost too much to organizations. Here are some reports.

  • According to research by HBR, underperforming employees cost $6,000 to $8,000 a day by reducing the motivation and effectiveness of the whole team.
  • Another research found that bad employees waste 2.8 hours a week. That’s a big amount of paid hours (roughly $359 billion in the United States alone).

So to avoid such extra costs, what should you do as a leader or a manager?

The best scenario is to avoid such employees while onboarding. Otherwise, find them, and try to change them.

If they resist change, prioritize taking work from those employees with micromanagement, and you will get results. Either they will leave or will provide you with work.

Now, let’s move forward to find terrible employees in your business.

The question is, how to make sure someone is a bad employee?

It’s almost hard to detect a bad employee because such employees are liars and hypocrites. But liars can’t run long.

If you test your employees with the following qualities discussed below, you can easily filter bad employees.

Here are 13 traits of bad employees.

Poor performance

I was discussing bad employee traits with my younger brother. He is a Zonal Sales manager in a well-reputed company (among top performers for years). He said remarkable words.

A bad employee can never be a high performer. His higher results must be cross-checked. Bad employees can be short-term target achievers but long term they are poor performers.

Ahsan Farhad

Whether you are onboarding someone who claims to be a high performer in any other company, or a probationer starting a career with you, or you had hired the wrong employee, the first clear sign of a bad employee is his results.

A bad employee is always a poor performer. If he presents good results, you can catch them by cross-checking their results.

Here is what CCL research claims about the performance of bad employees: 25% of problem employees are poor performers.

So what you should do now?

While onboarding someone, you must contact the companies they have worked for and ask them to provide you with their performance records.

If the guy has not been a high achiever, you should question the company more about his interests, goals, and behaviors.

A bad teammate

This is another sign of a bad employee. According to the study, 24% of bad employees don’t fit in any team but waste your time and resources shifting them from here to there.

Here is why.

Problem employees never feel comfortable with their teammates. They always have conflicts with their team or managers.

If someone claims that he feels more comfortable working on solo projects. He presents some childish reasons like I work more efficiently when alone, I don’t want to get controlled or I don’t want someone to ruin my projects, etc.

It means he has either not been groomed yet, or he is the problem employee.

Not responsive to feedback

Many managers and leaders said that 17% to 20% of bad employees don’t respond to feedback. They ignore the feedback and follow their instincts.

They don’t actively participate in the coaching.

Resistant to change

The purpose of any feedback should be to make improvements.

But the horrible employees are resistant to change.

If you can’t kick the employee off due to some reasons, let’s say he is a loyal employee of the company, you will use many tools to convince them to change.

Even after working hard with such employees, the best practice is not to give them a ground to play freely. You should keep your eyes open and observe their results.


Not all bad employees are liars, but many are.

Some employees will say yes at the moment; if you don’t follow up, you will never get the assigned work.

Secondly, if you catch them not providing the assigned work on time, they have tons of excuses. You can’t beat them unless you become straightforward about getting things done. (This is what I do in my organization.)


It’s a clear sign of a bad employee. You should never keep such employees on your team.

You can never trust a bad employee completely.

Here is why.

According to CCL research, all the managers and leaders told that bad employees always have 2 or more bad characteristics discussed here.

Now think of anyone who has two or more bad habits from the list. Can you trust that guy? No matter how skilled or qualified he is?

Let’s say he is a liar, has a negative attitude, and is least interested in company goals. Can you rely on such employees?

No. You can’t do it.

If you assign work to a bad employee who has the expertise to do it, you will sit on his head to do it properly.

That’s why bad employees are always unreliable. They don’t take responsibility for things on their own efficiently.

Negative attitude

The negative attitude is another clear sign that an employee is a horrible employee or he doesn’t have the guts to work in a team.

As terrible employees never take responsibility for improving things, doing things properly, or creating a positive change in the workplace, they always share negative things.

They will put it on others if they have not done their work.

Secondly, they will share negativity about others.

Such employees either ruin good employees or become so terrible that good employees leave.

Here is the thumb rule if good employees have started reporting it toxic environment, it’s time to let bad employees go.

Resents authority figures

This is another bad habit of poor employees. They are not satisfied with what they are doing and resent the authority figures.

I recently met a bad employee who started questioning and comparing his work with mine.

Here is how I responded.

First of all, you can’t inquire about my work, but higher authorities can do it. Secondly, my job is different from yours, so you can’t compare it with yours. And I have complete records of what I am doing, and you do too.

As he knew I kept a record, this was enough to make him quiet.

Least interested in the company’s missions

Bad employees never take companies’ missions and goals seriously.

They are brainwashed not to be loyal to company goals or targets. You can easily find such employees in your company, on social media, or other relevant forums.

I recently met a decent guy who used to claim that becoming loyal to companies is stupidity. (By the way, this way he sells his courses to beginners.)

Here is how I responded to him.

You think employees should not be loyal to companies. You believe that businesses are utilizing employees to make more money. Right?

Why don’t you think of people?

The majority of people never do business because they don’t want to take risks with their money. Secondly, if they get the courage to start, they fail because they don’t have the guts to run businesses.

You can find many examples around you.

Companies are putting their money at risk. They make people skillful in using their unused energies and feed them and their families. They empower them and give them respect and job security.

If a company dies, employees are NOW skilled enough to move to the next company. Shouldn’t employees respect such companies or their goals?

Reconsider it.

Lack of required skills

Some employees get jobs but don’t have the right skills to do the job.

Let’s say someone got a technical job but doesn’t have the expertise to handle the technical work. He will put things at risk.

Many managers and leaders said that some of the bad employees didn’t have the right skills. But unfortunately, they were hired.


Not all bad employees lack the skills. Some are lazy.

Here is what lazy people do.

You know well, Andy can do this job but he won’t do it for his laziness.

Such employees are never trustworthy.

Poor priorities

This is an interesting characteristic of bad employees.

Bad employees don’t have respectable priorities. If you talk to them for a while, you will soon realize that this guy wants to get a salary at the end of the month, and that’s the sole purpose he works for.

He will never talk about improvements, growth, and achievements. He will waste time in conflicts, gossip, and poor habits.


Last but not least, bad employees are hard to be disciplined. You will always find them presenting excuses for leaving early or reaching late work.

You will get find tons of such unpleasant acts that you will ignore. But it’s a clear sign that something is wrong with the employee.

Final words

Bad employees waste millions of dollars in the United States alone. Bad employees are underperformers and conflict creators. Some valuable employees leave due to bad employees.

So it’s wise to find bad employees and try to change them; otherwise, ask them to find a new way.

The above-mentioned research-based 13 bad employees’ traits are enough to filter any bad employee easily.