Don’t make your employees work with toxic clients

Toxic clients exist, and putting them first (i.e., the customer is always right) is a mistake, especially if your employees will have to suffer to deal with them.

Toxic clients don’t always show their true colors before the deal is signed, so sometimes, a service provider walks into an unexpected hornet’s nest of toxicity. Once there, it is critical to minimize the impact of that negative behavior on employees and quickly assess if the client should be retained.

Many toxic clients, especially the ones with big dollars, can worsen over time because their initial destructive behaviors are not called out. Ultimately, the client gets what they want, but you and your employees suffer. I once worked with a toxic client who did not wish for a member of my team to deliver to his executive team. Although that team member was the expert, no one was better for the job. I told the client we would retain the team member on their account, even though I knew the client might protest. When the client had a tantrum, I decided on the spot to stop working with the client. The alternative (keeping that client) would have compromised the goodwill of my team to satisfy their toxicity.

When you see toxic behavior (from clients or colleagues), take quick action to nip it in the bud.