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Struggling with toxic staff? Here’s some free advice… | The Melting Pot Newsletter | Issue #71


It’s so easy for corrosive attitudes to set in and spread like wildfire in a business.  Often they originate with one or two people who spread their poison to others. You know the ones.  The mood hoovers who suck all the joy out of a conversation, like a dementor from Harry Potter. Or the one who likes to gossip and foment division by spreading ‘them and us’ rumours.

Whether it’s office politics, hostile relationships or lack of trust, a negative work environment can lead to disengagement, lower retention rates, decreased productivity, and sheer misery all around. Everyone suffers when the atmosphere at work is negative – employees, leadership, and ultimately the company and its bottom line.

Research from Gallup has found that toxic staff cost the American economy up to $350 billion a year.  Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, in their brilliant book ‘First Break All the Rules’ call actively disengaged employees “cave dwellers,” drawing the acronym from the fact that they’re ‘Consistently Against Virtually Everything’. In a Gallup interview, Coffman said, “Negativity is like a blood clot, and actively disengaged employees sometimes clot together in groups that support and reinforce their beliefs’.

If you’re grappling with staff like this, you’re not alone.  Unfortunately, human beings are hard-wired for negativity. It’s a well known scientific fact that the human brain has a ‘negativity bias’ – it reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems as bad. Our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat news than good news.  And nastiness naturally makes a bigger impact on us.  

So with the odds naturally stacked against you, what can you do? 

The Melting Pot With Dominic Monkhouse - Featured Image

Getting the Most When You Sell Your Life’s Work

If you’re looking to sell your business, then you’ll be wanting to get the most out of what is effectively the sale of your life’s worth. But how do you do that? You’ll probably need to draw on the expertise of financial advisors, and today’s guest, Daniel Havercroft is a partner at Oakley Advisory, one of Europe’s leading independent corporate finance firms.

Daniel is focused mainly on origination and execution of M&A and fundraising mandates, and has considerable experience helping companies that operate in hosting, colocation and digital media/online sub-sectors. Having completed over 30 transactions in his time with Oakley, helping shareholders sell businesses, companies acquire competitors and private equity invest in new opportunities, Daniel is incredibly well-placed to talk about selling a business.

You want to drive your company’s valuation, looking at your business through the eyes of the potential purchaser rather than the people running the business. Because in order to extract maximum value from the sale, you’ll probably need to change some aspects of your business. Daniel shares with us what those changes should be.

The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie Dominic Monkhouse


Great episode, tying in with this week’s blog on toxic employees ‘How To Fight the ‘Power of Bad’ and the ‘Negativity Effect’. 


You’ve heard of high-performance workplaces, but how do they become “high-performance”? Gallup has discovered that one of the most important factors in creating a high-performance workplace is instilling a high-development culture: one that values the growth of individuals. Organizations that have made a strategic investment in employee development, Gallup finds, report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.


Progress is rarely achieved alone. From groundbreaking scientific research to creating beloved products, teamwork is woven into the fabric of how we advance in society and in business. So it’s no surprise that experts say nearly 100% of the world’s leading organizations are built on a foundation of teams, where workers accomplish objectives through collaboration.


The six faces around the table displayed expressions not usually seen in a corporate room. They ranged from sheepish to flustered to outright embarrassed. These were the successful, ambitious participants in a peer coaching group, and they’d been nominated to attend a leadership program by their bosses. Their uncharacteristic appearance was because of a just-completed assessment that said most of them were in a full-blown crisis trying to manage their time and energy.

Chasing stars Boris Groysberg Dominic Monkhouse


It is taken for granted in the knowledge economy that companies must employ the most talented performers to compete and succeed. Many firms try to buy stars by luring them away from competitors. But Boris Groysberg shows what an uncertain and disastrous practise this can be. After examining the careers of more than a thousand star analysts at Wall Street investment banks, and conducting more than two hundred frank interviews, Groysberg comes to a striking conclusion: star analysts who change firms suffer an immediate and lasting decline in performance. Most stars who switch firms turn out to be meteors, quickly losing lustre in their new settings. Chasing Stars offers profound insights into the fundamental nature of outstanding performance. It also offers practical guidance to individuals on how to manage their careers strategically, and to companies on how to identify, develop, and keep talent.

Surrounded by idiots Thomas Erikson Dominic Monkhouse


Do you ever think you’re the only one making any sense? Or tried to reason with your partner with disastrous results? Do long, rambling answers drive you crazy? Or does your colleague’s abrasive manner get your back up? You are not alone. After a disastrous meeting with a highly successful entrepreneur, who was genuinely convinced he was ‘surrounded by idiots’, communication expert and bestselling author, Thomas Erikson dedicated himself to understanding how people function and why we often struggle to connect with certain types of people.

This book offers a simple, yet ground-breaking method for assessing the personalities of people we communicate with – in and out of the office – based on four personality types (Red, Blue, Green and Yellow), and provides insights into how we can adjust the way(s) we speak and share information.


Here’s a good habit to build over the next month.  Resolve that you’re going to ask every person you meet for a referral.  And I mean, every person.  It’s like going on a diet.  You cut out all carbs, rather than some.  That makes it easier to stick to!

At the beginning of your conversation, ask them whether it would be ok to ask for a favour at the end of your meeting. Then, when you get to that point, ask if they know someone you should meet.  And would they be happy to introduce you via email or the phone?  If they look uncertain, you can reduce friction by offering them a pre-prepared paragraph about you. You want to make it as easy as possible. 

This may feel awkward at first, but soon it will become second nature.  And 9 times out of 10, you’ll find people are very happy to do this for you.

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