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‘Business Requires Medical Care Just as a Living Organism’

‘Business Requires Medical Care Just as a Living Organism’

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At the end of February 2023, the HSE Department of Innovation Management held a masterclass on ‘Diagnosing and Getting Rid of Toxic Personnel’. The event was organised as part of the advanced training programme in innovation and entrepreneurship for HSE students and staff.

Aleksandr Reinhardt, visiting lecturer at the HSE Department of Innovation Management, and Chief Business Architect of КТС Industrial Outsourcing, shared his knowledge on identifying toxic employees, how to categorise them, and the best way of getting rid of these people.

Aleksandr Reinhardt

‘Today we’re talking about corporate toxicology, which I have been studying since 2001,’ said the expert. He explained that a turquoise organisation is a company where ‘everybody, holding hands, is running together towards a bright future under pink clouds, everyone loves each other purely and sincerely.’ Is this possible in real life? ‘Teal organisations can only exist if they have no contacts with the red world,’ believes Alexander Reinhardt. However, this is impossible, because in business, everybody is exposed to constant stress and each of us has to exist in a society with toxic people.

Aleksandr Reinhardt went on to explain why everybody should understand the topic of personnel toxicity.

‘The problem of personnel toxicity is not studied as part of typical educational programmes. It is a non-standard topic, but I believe that a business requires medical care, much like a living organism. If you are poisoned, you need to be treated, and not with ‘homeopathy’ such as creating coping strategies, which various consultants do. It is necessary to diagnose, find the disease, establish its causes — and then get rid of it. This should be done by the company itself, without external consultants.

This skill needs to be studied for a long time, otherwise you can easily make a mess of it. Having received a little knowledge, people have the illusion that they already know everything. And they try to apply this information to real situations. However, there are many pitfalls and obstacles that a person may not know about. To effectively carry this process out, a person must have a lot of experience of both successes and failures. And my task is to tell you about the mistakes and problems that may occur.

I prefer talking about the problems which may arise, not about successful cases. It’s much more important to understand some pain points, to know about the traps that are waiting for you

Knowledge on the topic of personnel toxicity can be used to increase labour productivity. Imagine that your employee earns you one million roubles a month, when they could be earning you a million and a half.

Currently, companies don’t often apply this knowledge. It should be a mature organisation, and the management should understand all the subtleties of the work being carried out. In 20 years of my practice, less than 30 projects have successfully applied this knowledge. And the bigger the project, the longer, and more expensive it is, and the greater the risks of failure, so not everyone is ready to go for it. But I plan to write a book and release software on this topic. And then the companies themselves will be able to use this as a guide for independent action.’

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